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"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.

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