Dorianne Laux

Monks In the Grand Chartreuse

            Silent–the best are silent now. – Matthew Arnold

Look down the long hall.  Light


floods the cracks. A loaf of bread


hollowed out, kiln–fire gold.


They file by in white robes, winter


opening outside the curved windows,


snow folded like dough


over the vegetable gardens, clouds


low hammocks slung between frozen trees.


At work in the kitchen, the barn,

the sewing room, when the bells ring


they kneel where they are and pray.


In the library of gilt-edged books,

in their cells, they kneel. Alcoves


set with votives, kernels of yellow fire


struggling behind red glass, a table


rough hewn, piled with stiff linen.

Still water
in stone carved basins,

touched
with two fingers, shimmer.


A cat winds by like wind. They pray.

And when they rise and sing no one


hears them in their limestone valley.


The stars arch as night’s back

lifts and bristles. They chant


with closed eyes. They eat soup,

grainy potato. Celery, pale, stringy,


floats. Carrots and beans sunk


to the bottom of the bowl. The heavy


brown bread, almost inedible, soaks.


Nothing enters or leaves this quiet.

No bird. No squirrel. Cold white,

every branch still.

______

© Dorianne Laux.  All Rights Reserved.