The woman lights another tapered prayer,
Whose weeping wax now gutters in the gloom,
A ritual task which only can illume
A world of superstition and despair.
Above us, in the bright empyrean blue,
The frieze of flaky prophets on the ceiling
Is laced with holes, as if the heavens were peeling
To let the pagan night beneath show through.
Behind each fading fresco lies the next,
Precise as tree-rings, measuring the ages
Of human hope and terror, like a text
Still legible beneath the parchment pages'
Faint palimpsest. As if such monkish art
Could ever warm this heartless world's cold heart.