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At Cadoin with Willem at Three

by Carol Ann Davis


Earlier the pizza, the children’s menu and ice cream,
the market square empty today,
its wooden roof condemned. Now the shade

of the church door, large as the head of a beast,
and inside, metal boxes, each slotted with the price
of a candle, the largest a Madonna set to burn here

through frost and the closing of roads. Also the warning
for those who take without paying
we are watching and have penalties
. Later the rocks

and the confluence of two rivers,
the meltdown at the carousel, the chef who loses
his wife. Here a sign reading those who believe

will pray; those who don’t will naturally
sit quietly
. Here the blessing
of the unborn, St. Theresa as sad

as I’ve ever seen her, and in the corner
the etchings of something older
painted over. With the story of the shroud

I am made into wind: revealed
after eight hundred years as a Kufic imposter,
this piece of cloth is no longer thought

to have wrapped Christ’s head. Now even pilgrims don’t
want to see it. You are outside in your father’s arms,
in the sun. What you say to him becomes prayer

and complaint. To light a candle here is to want
to stave off flood. To travel 1,000 miles
with stones in your mouth.

 

Carol Ann Davis’s first book, Psalm, was runner up for the 2005 Dorset Prize and will be published in October 2007 by Tupelo Press. Her poems have recently appeared in The Iowa Review, The Threepenny Review, and Prairie Schooner. The recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the South Carolina Arts Commission, she lives in Charleston, South Carolina, where she directs the undergraduate creative writing program at The College of Charleston and edits Crazyhorse. (8/2007)


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