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Rosslyn Chapel, 1446 - 2001
by Sandra Lindow

A building this old can’t be entirely honest,
too many stories reside within its walls.
As I enter the darkened sanctuary,
their silent symphonic voices
immerse me like water over falls.

A call and response of images –
competing choirs of carvings – ecclesiastical 
and secular -- sing human history, 
its stanzas condensed in stone,
a concerto of interwoven motifs 
where dragons and deadly sins abound.

Templar crosses whisper of relics rescued 
from embattled lands and buried beneath stone--
John the Baptist’s severed head, the Grail,
A fragment of the True Cross.
Green Men emerging from granite foliage
suggest truths deeper than fact alone.

Even the thirteen supporting pillars
contest for Fairest of the Fair,
the rumor of their medieval creation,
a pageant of dark desires. When 
Master Mason returned from Italy, 
and saw the exquisite Apprentice Pillar, 
jealousy bloomed like a poisoned rose
and he murdered his pupil beneath it. 

Above the baptistery, stony mouths 
of Master and broken headed 
Apprentice debate the truth of the tale
but, after five centuries of elaboration, 
the facts no longer matter.


Sandra Lindow, "officially past her 50th birthday, takes the responsibilities of apprentice cronehood seriously." She has won numerous awards for poetry and has been eight times nominated for the Science Fiction Poetry Association's Rhysling Award. Her poetry has appeared in Asimov's, The Magazine of Speculative Poetry, Tales of the Unanticipated, Amazing, et al. She has published four books of poetry, including The Heroic Housewife Papers (Pandora, 1990), which was named the best poetry collection published by a Wisconsin writer in 1990. Lindow is West Central Regional Vice President for the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets and is actively involved in local readings and workshops. She wrote "Rosslyn Chapel" when she lived in Scotland's Dalkeith Palace, a 700-year-old palace with, she says, "at least one active ghost."


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"Rosslyn Chapel, 1446 - 2001" © Sandra Lindow. Used by permission of the author.
 Raven Electrick © Karen A. Romanko. Clipart by Corel®.