when memories matter

IMG_2710does it matter
where we were
if I can no longer remember the
names

places become images
like the teal green dome
of the church of that saint
covered in stars
I would say speckled but
that sounds too easy
stars golden and six pointed
pin perfect painted
onto the ceiling or is it real gold
carefully set in place
and how do they keep it there?

what if it fell on us in little sparkles as we sang
sprinkling golddust on our four-part harmonies

the basses catching it down below
as in a deep blue bowl

st. anthony (or is it theresa) would have been proud
to see, to hear the echoes of
our brightest amens resound
from arch to arch
ten seconds
lasting longer than the mist
the notes created before our noses
as we watched the priest reach into that
mysterious box
behind the curtain
wondering if it was proper
for us to sing as if in worship
in a language we don’t know
in a place whose name we have
already forgotten

is it sacrilege
to sing as
a believer
in a place of worship
when you don’t think God speaks
Italian?

and when we step out of this space
to sweeten ourselves with sworls of gelato
and cioccolata waxing thick
in a cream-white cup

will it matter?

[I found my Italy poem! Turns out I did write one after all, a couple of months after the choir trip, on 2 April 2013. I had intended to continue writing more and to edit what I had here, but never got around to it. It was originally haphazardly titled “5 minute memory (Italy attempt 1).” I think I had intended to write multiple short poems about “snapshot memories” in 5 minutes, but then got busy with life. I’ve made some very minor edits here, but this is basically the original, and reminds me of that one place and short performance during mass that we had in a really fancy cathedral. The feeling here describes really just one moment in time, the lingering wonder that I felt listening to our voices echo in that foreign yet familiar setting. And of course I knew that God can speak Italian, but intuitively in that moment it was like we were speaking a language no one could understand, not even the angels. And I wondered what that meant, though in the moment all I knew was that it was quite beautiful. Maybe that’s all it will ever be, a snapshot of beauty and hesitation that I hope I’ve captured even just a little with this poem.]

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