Like so many people, across the world, I was shocked and saddened by the images of this famous and beautiful building being consumed by flames. Forest fires can cleanse and purge, regenerate. Maybe President Macron’s pledge to rebuild will materialise. I hope so. But the building is so much more than that. It is a collection of memories, stories, hopes and fears, intrigues, plots, births, marriages, deaths and funerals. For many, a house of God, for some, a box ticked in the tourism guide, and for all, a centre for humanity. So this, in memoriam….
The building falls
Enflamed at the last,
The spire, hunch backed, then broken.
The world exhales,
A collective gasp,
A sob, a tear,
The siren shriek.
A fiery breath roars skywards.
What’s gone from here?
An icon, yes.
A feature, a show,
Somewhere for hordes of tourist to go,
The chatter, clatter, camera whirl,
Babble, rabble, rainbow guided swirl,
Notre Dame, an oasis perhaps, in this,
Our restless, curious, irreverent world.
(Believers came here too. Who knew?)
More than this though,
Sparks stumbling the night sky,
And thus, atomised
Learning to fly :
The church embattled
Across the years.
As the structure breathes its last
The symbol sighs
The crowds groan, moan, mourn this troubling
Aloft, the smoke belching
Fire fuelled repast
The bell no longer tolls.
The silence is that of the bombed out building,
The ghetto razed,
Au revoir, divine.
Our mutual loss?
The whispering echoes of time.