"Remembering the Monastery" by Alicia Viguer-Espert
Remembering the Monastery
Between the damaged roof and the walnut tree
slightly to the right, I watched Venus appear
using a celestial method long discovered
by astronomers who registered astral details
as we, scribes, illuminated manuscripts
in the dim light of the scriptorium.
Those days were sacred, when a robin
sitting on the window sill to preen its tail
caught the brothers’ attention and they
lifted their heads from smooth parchment,
interrupted grinding lapis for a minute
to smile at birds’ ease to reach heaven.
Today the empty monastery stands silent,
stone wall crumbled, beehives destroyed,
all bees dying in clusters from pesticides,
its orchard burned years ago, the pigsty
covered with ivy, only a single walnut tree
stands by the wooden door cracked by sun,
which, like me, was once new and strong.
In those clear mornings nothing was futile,
the bundles we carried were not burdens
but a fair exchange for the gifts received,
silence, blue skies, tolling bells falling
like rain in May when it was most needed.
The roads leading to that door were infinite
and no wind blowing over the hills stopped
a pilgrim seeking the solace of an inner
contact with Andromeda, Cassiopeia, or
their own soul, from getting their reward.
In another life, eons ago, I must have been
one of those monks waiting for the Beloved,
leaning on the walnut tree, closed eyes focused
on the heart chakra counting each breath,
which like heartbeats, connected to my soul.
I remember an eagle resting on that same tree
tried to tell me a secret, but I didn’t listen.
Alicia Viguer-Espert grew up in a bilingual family in Valencia, Spain. She learned English as an adult, began writing in English in 2017 and that same year won The San Gabriel Valley Poetry Festival Book Contest with her book Holding a Hummingbird. She has been a featured poet at numerous venues within the greater LA. Her work has been published in Colorado Boulevard, Lummox Anthologies, Altadena Poetry Review, ZZyZx Intersections, Panoplyzine, and Spectrum Publications, among others. Her chapbook Out of the Womb of the Sea was recently published by Four Feather Press. She’s a 2019 and 2020 Pushcart Prize nominee.