March 24, 2011

John Nimmo

IF YOU TOOK THE SISTINE CHAPEL

and wiped blank
Michelangelo’s sibyls and saints,
the great, outstretched
hand of God, the spark
of life, Adam and all
his progeny, and the angels
of the heavenly host;
if you plastered over
the little window
that the cardinals who gather
from every nation
send white smoke through
when they have chosen
the new pope;
and then if you expelled
the whole hive of drifting,
gaping, sweating tourists
and their guides
babbling Dutch, Italian,
Japanese, French, and German
under lofted pom-poms,
bowler hats, and stuffed toy kittens;
and swept away the robed man
who appears every five minutes
to shout “Silenzio!”
it would look and smell
remarkably like
the Fellowship Hall
of the First Methodist Church,
Maywood, California,
built in 1928.

from Rattle #17, Summer 2002