It wasn’t just the cautious Greeks,
their faces stoic as marble in our imagination,
who built one,
nor the Mayans, with their bloodstained temple stairs,
the Druids with their rings of rocks,
the Tibetans with their little kite-like flags.
Joshua, the warrior, made his of twelve river-washed stones,
Solomon, with the cedar and cypress of Lebanon, borne on the backs of 30,000 slaves,
Elijah with ox and wood, water and rock, and the unflinching certainty that fire would come.
Yet the grander the cathedral, the more resounding the echo
that tells us it is empty.
So most are made of invisible fodder,
of elusive notions of beauty and goodness, justice and power
and all the things we wish were ultimate and true and transcendent and universal,
Because we’ve given them names.
Every thought is idolatry,
every prayer blasphemes,
every appeal to him or her or some weird neutered ghost
makes debauchery of our worship.
And yet we grope,
If perhaps we might find it,
If perhaps we might build it right,
If perhaps it won’t matter if we don’t.
It wasn’t just the cautious Greeks who built one
Out of fears and fantasies, of longings and projections
And the unrelenting hope that fire will come.
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