by Katherine J. Williams
Chartres, April 2007
Suppose you were a pilgrim
chilled beneath your heavy tunic,
your village receding
as your steps carry you farther
than you have ever traveled.
It is dark and yet you keep
walking because it is often
dark in this part of the world
in this season, in that place
where your faith resides
and is almost lost. It is dark
in the hut you have left,
and in the rutted fields
you will not tend this year,
dark in your wife’s face
as you memorize the map
of her anger and hope.
For me, the passage through air
to land is sleek. My work, like fields,
will wait. Coffee steams before me.
An old man drags morning tables
into place while watery light seeps
along the east portal, washing the dark
stained glass, and a faint
French radio insists on the world.
The vast cathedral is locked
and must be nearly black inside.
Across the years I’ve journeyed far
and not as far as the peasant
stumbling out of the woods
onto the circling streets whose heart
is Chartres. But I know that pilgrim
in the dark: we both have traveled,
both supposing light.
KATHERINE J. WILLIAMS, who was Director of the Art Therapy Program at George Washington University, is now Associate Professor Emerita and is in private practice as an art therapist and clinical psychologist. Her clinical articles on art therapy have appeared in The American Journal of Art Therapy and Art Therapy. Poems have been published in journals and anthologies such as Poet Lore, The Northern Virginia Review, 3rd Wednesday, Voices, The Poet’s Cookbook, The Widows’ Handbook, and Healing the Divide: Poems of Kindness and Connection, edited by James Crews. One of her poems was nominated for the Pushcart Prize.
Photo: “Candles in Chartres Cathedral” by Scott Gunn