The Devil and Saint Michael of the Rock

    Heaven thundering and land dissolving
as salt-surge breaks every-which-way into storm-swell—
    isn’t that just the natural world? Perhaps
the merchant’s prayers saved him. And yet

    the church he vowed to build keeps falling down.
Every stone he placed by hand is gone next morning,
    tossed over the edge into a famished ocean,
as if Brent-Tor couldn’t stand the weight of one more stone.
    The wealthy merchant is running out of cash
in this Sisyphus task, hauling up rocks that roll
    back down.

So the merchant prays again to Michael, who hurls
a boulder at the devil—more rock-fall. Devil limps off
    with a gimpy heel. He’ll be back.

But here, at last, a standing church—so small, it just fits
the tip of a beacon-tor, volcanic iceberg
    in a tiding sea of land. Does earth yearn
with the devil? Subduction and fault, temblor, eruption,
    collapse.
Here’s this church with its stained
    window fragile as ship in storm, glittering
as glass.

Copyright © 2010 Taylor Graham.

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Poetry,