November 28, 2014

Wadi al Natroun

Somehow it seems right
that rooms built for Jesus
and to honor his Mother
are rank with body oder
They feel well worn, like
a milk farmer’s old barn
built as a sturdy shelter

The edge of every old relic
is worn to a smoothness
by the faithful fingers of
a million traveling pilgrims
They move about the tight
rooms like ants at a picnic
Touching, praying, hoping

We took shoes off outside
The carpets in here are thick
with the dust of two million
feet and the shuffle of many
centuries of pedestrian piety
They are not taking pictures
They are investing in power

Olfactory speaking, I swing
between strong impressions
In one corner, I feel a gravity
of millennia, lingering saints
But in a whiff the room sours
Hints of gym socks and fetor

My house shall be a house
of prayer, he said. Never did
he say his buildings would or
should smell of lavender and
sophistication. The Boy and
his Mother seem to welcome
all who come. My house will

a house
of perspiration