Sapphics for Brugge

After a crisp crab salad baguette lunch on
a sun-warped bench along the Mariastraat,
I got in to see the Madonna met Kind,
swarmed by Japanese

whose windbreakers of cavalier pink and orange
and chattering cameras clashed with the stone
arches and silence. I scooted over for a
tour group from Dumfries.

The finely scooped folds of Carrara marble
coaxed my hand to reach out and confirm them cloth
even after I strolled through the exit door,
considered the ease

with which memory proceeds a true longing.
Belgian glare struck the cobbles like stained glass as
I walked back on foot and in mind, recalling
the Dover ferries

to Calais, squads of gulls scrolling sad circus
cries behind on broad invisible ribbons
of sea air. Becket lay—before this woman,
stone child on her knees—

in Canterbury, his martyrdom fused with
my thoughts of what it would be like to have
a shrine set up for some nine hundred years on
the spot your breath ceased . . .

Or you—in the maternity wing of a
county hospital, sculptors and sage pilgrims
trekking there for decades to hail events as
glorious as these.

About the author

Matthew James Babcock travels in small circles in Idaho, where he teaches writing and lives with his wife and five children. He has been…

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Issue 10 · September 2010

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