Stripping of the altars

Und ich weiß noch nicht: bin ich ein Falke, ein Sturm, order ein großer Gesang?
And I still do not know: am I a falcon, a storm, or a great song?
— Rilke

Half a year ago,

One Sunday that was foggy, overcast, and full of clouds,

I climbed Montserrat to see the lady,

To hold the black madonna’s feet,

To ask for one thing,

Rubbing her golden shoes smooth as stone

With the desperation of my prayer.

Lighting a candle for a dead man,

I prayed the only prayer I knew back then:

for your return.

I didn’t know how to pray for anything else.

I prayed and prayed for something I could never see again.

I prayed to hold dead bodies in my arms,

To keep them in my hands instead of graves.

I prayed that my heart would be full of ashes,

That I would never sweep the floor,

That I would be your crematorium.

It was the only prayer I knew.

I didn’t know another one.

I prayed to hold onto something that was gone.

I prayed for the past to be my present,

instead of dying

instead of rising.

I prayed, and the answer to my prayers was plague.

The plague was dying.

The plague was rising.

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