The architecture of time

by Christine De Luca

The architecture of time
          Basilica di San Miniato al Monte, Firenze

Jasmine is already fading on the wall and
a waxing gibbous moon is a pale reminder tracking
a still blue sky. It is almost time to close the gates.
All of us with feet of clay must make the journey back.

The westering sun has thrown its light on marble,
green and white, subtling through restless centuries.
Plainchant has marked the architecture of the days.
The choir are busy gleaning honey for their potions.

The eye is caught in geometry: fine simple line,
repeating pattern; but then by horns of beasts
with wings, fantastic tails as from some mythic time,
some dream of Revelation to end all dreams.

In pride of place, the zodiac star signs lie, inlaid
in stone, awaiting summer solstice. The white lace
of the crab will glisten on St. John the Baptist’s Day,
their patron saint lit up among the constellations.

Above it all an ancient Christ stares down with Mary,
iconfaced, and symbols of the saints in gold:
an eagle, bull and lion. For heaven is a garden
and the walls of Florence cannot hold this moment.

How the monks must love it when we disappear
and they can make their worship shape the silence;
address the evening’s slender cypresses, distant hills,
the last call of roosting birds; see the moon brighten.