Cathedral II – a poem by Jen Rouse

Cathedral II

Garnet gleam and well-deep blue–
thorn-kissed blood on each thick pane,
a story leaded and stained.
The feathered gold frescoes are burden;
our art betrays.

Would you sit here in silence and do nothing
but note the design? I have
glimpsed arches contracting
as though choreographed, supine
movements centuries old and timed.

This is the house that God built–
a layer cake of death and resurrection:

crypt …….nave……. tower,

rooms large enough to hold sister sin,
such a beautiful bride. Take her satin train,
and all her pretty maids, amethyst organza-dripping
down the aisle past perfectly straight
pew soldiers. And then you’ll kneel,
and open your mouth to God,
pray in your black orchid tongue.


Jen Rouse’s poems have appeared in Poetry, Poet Lore, Pretty Owl, The Tishman Review, The Inflectionist Review, Midwestern Gothic, Sinister Wisdom, and elsewhere. She has work forthcoming in Up the Staircase, the CDC Poetry Project, Parentheses, and Sliver of Stone. Rouse’s chapbook, Acid and Tender, was published in 2016 by Headmistress Press. Find her at and on Twitter @jrouse.

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