I was taken underground     down many flights of stairs
     to a room inside the earth     lit by a sourceless light
where on a rough-hewn pedestal     carved from an ancient tree
     a face stared out at me     stared past me into Time
someone had made the shrine     a woman I thought like me
     her grey hair wild unkempt     as she worked the wood with gold
to make a precious overlay     the shrine a place to kneel
     & pray for continuance     like a gift another morning came
bringing the chance of rain     rain that would wash the earth
     clean of the summer’s dust     but I cannot forget
the shrine     the face     the wonderworking hands buried
     so deep beneath me     in a room in the center of the earth

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 28 Number 7, on page 25
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