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In the Cathedral Nacional de Mexico

10.19.19 Posted in today's words by

Max Reif’s most recent poem to appear here was “Homage to the Mexican Muralists” (September 2019)

In the Cathedral Nacional de Mexico
By Max Reif

I’m sitting here in a pew
a little while ago, when
what is probably
the largest pipe organ
in the world suddenly 
begins to blast!

Now it’s stopped, 
just as abruptly.

It’s different now.
The silence is nice.
No more visions of
Lon Cheney movies.

Still, hundreds of people
are walking in and out,
up and down the aisles,
all the time.

Silence is relative.

What to make of

the scale of this place?
The enormous stone pillars,
the Baroque displays of gold
dripping from the walls
behind the altars,

the vastness of the entire building
as I approached, not knowing 
what it was, only that it resembled
a huge, slightly disheveled
wedding cake, which could fall
any minute.

The jewelry counters right in the middle
of the building as you walk down
the aisle — religious jewelry, at least.

It’s impossible not
to be impressed,
somewhat calmed–
and a little

If that isn’t enough, outside
there’s an alternative scene:
people wearing Aztec headdresses
and death-heads, dusting postulants 
with sage smoke, brushing them 
with an herb resembling cilantro.

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