Thomas Festa

Rupture and Forge

Your message arrived in Córdoba
and, for a spell, across an ocean I

felt your touch, a perfect stillness.
Then, aspen leaves in your gust,

I stood on glass in my head
writing you back, peered through

to what had been they said
a Visigothic church underneath

the Mezquita, entranced for hours
by the forest of columns and scorpions

of holy script I couldn’t read, gold
mosaics, striped arches everywhere,

the entryway to paradise multiplying
in infinite regress, those pillars

of onyx, jasper, marble, porphyry,
spolia in the hypostyle mosque,

the ruined past holding up the prayer
hall for personal devotion, whatever

faith, from deconstructed Roman
architecture of need. The old

injury never seems to heal
like that most intimate of wounds,

lonely nights awake in the asylum,
anniversary of the match I once convinced

myself would make me whole, when

your thought, river of pure light, came
through to show where fracture meant

to have its way with me. The Door
of Forgiveness slammed shut behind me.

In the Court of Oranges, I heard bells
from a tower built to disguise a minaret.

Those were not yet early days, the weight
of setting out still so heavy. Unceilinged

chant, I felt your thought in Córdoba,
and the world lightninged to life again.


Thomas Festa is a Professor of English at the State University of New York, New Paltz, and the author of a forthcoming chapbook of poems, Earthen (Finishing Line Press). Other recent work includes an ecopoetic reading of W.S. Merwin’s late poetry (in ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment) and poems in Bennington Review, Contemporary Haibun Online, Drifting Sands Haibun, and Poetry Quarterly.