They rarely snapped apart,
those French Gothic cathedrals,
encrypting clotted earth
as they sailed toward endless sky.
Occasionally one collapsed,
like Beauvais, from trying too hard,
or, like Saint Maclou, cluttered
and confused its lines, losing
the impossible coupling of soil and sun.
But most, hunkered down, buttresses flying,
opened their core to rainbowing light
as they set about piercing heaven.
Chartres did it best. Resolute and
grounded as a twin-peaked mountain,
it told its tender stained-glass stories
well enough to make a peasant weep.
It flouted abstract symmetry, one spire
staunchly romanesque, the other
soaringly flamboyant. One said,
My presence here is God in stone,
the other, I am the earthly gone to God .
Its vaulted center held, however,
and still, and still, is holding.
Lynn Hoggard has published five books: three French translations, a biography, and a memoir. Her poetry has appeared in 13th Moon, The Alembic, Atlanta Review, The Broken Plate, Clackamas Literary Review, Concho River Review, Crack the Spine, The Delmarva Review, Descant, Forge, Edison Literary Review, FRiGG, The Healing Muse, The MacGuffin, New Ohio Review, Sanskrit, Soundings East, Summerset Review, Schuylkill Valley Journal, Tower Journal, Weber: The Contemporary West, Westview, WestWard Quarterly, Wild Violet, and Xavier Review, among others.