The Chapel

The Chapel

Andrés Sánchez Robayna


You saw the stone of celebration
rise in the afternoon. A lifted shaft of light,
detained in stone. You walked
slowly, with silent steps,
along the quiet nave
until your gaze had come to rest
upon the double silence, and without a sound
a vision flared alongside pillars,
walls and traceries, past veins
of light ascending in the air,
converging in infinity.


That vault,
like a sky in the July afternoon
moulded by passing clouds, forsaken
the vision of one who down below imagines them
as fixed in an eternal day—that stationary vault,
its fan of arms outstretched
to enfold the entire body of the light,
was it perhaps enfolding you as well
in its extended rays, beneath the vertical
encomium of stone which rose erect,
losing itself almost in remoteness,
away up there?


What brought you here?
You did not expect to find beneath these skies
this other space which receives you
like a mother’s breast, a house
in which one’s being takes refuge from the storm
and is caught by light
and is coverted into light
reclining in the walls, and joins
the light which gently slips by the windows,
and by means of colour is colour itself
and by means of light is sheer transparency.


the lawn, the tossing trees,
the greens of the green, the blues
of the summer sky, the boys and girls
who lay upon the grass, the laughter,
the boats which lingered on the river:
it was that sky
which shone within the vault, it was
the laughter, the bodies and the boats
which were enciphered there. Upon
the stone, the body of clarity,
the splendour on the traceries.


in you time congregates
as in mud and seed. You gravitate
like a cloud stretched over time,
like an incessant, ever stationary drop
among the waters of succession.
In you there rests
the heat, the shelter
of this refuge from the light,
from the wandering spirit, from the forms,
from space and body
in a single vehemence. Keep on, you proud ones,
quickly flowing in your immobility.


These tall pillars, this branching
roof, hollowed in ten thousand openings
where light and shadow lie, seem
a continuous music which does not want to die.
It was said by words of another time
which now beat joyfully in your spirit.


Sacred alveoli where unheard notes
and contrapuntal voices flowing
from dedicated lip take refuge.
Stones pierced by music.
Stones which drink in the sound
of the open music which soars interminably.
Pillars, walls, niches filled
with the gentle harmony of voices
in the afternoon which dies while the music lasts.


Tall stone raised upon mud,
upon the finite and upon lament.
Arches which copy the joined hands
of hope and deleriction.
There the places were intertwined,
beneath the shining keystones.
There, up aloft, shadow and light were united
and the whole of space was enclosed.


At the back,
waiting for you perhaps, others
too were worshipping, and little by little
you recognized them. There,
The Adoration od the Shepherds, a knot
of shadows, a mass, a shape
against the afternoons’s perfected light,
in immortal contemplation,
in their fixed, resplendent gaze,
in the hands which tremble at the offering
of trembling itself, the bare hands,
the vehemence. And they seemed
to wait for you, to call you to the celebration.


one dark night you contemplated
the everlasting light,
you contemplate in an eternal night
from a fold in time
which half-opens here, in the image
of the stillness of some figures
which seem linked for ever
to contemplation, to calling us
to trembling,
to the embrace, in darkness, of light and time.


This interior, doesn’t it teach you
to merge in one being
interior and exterior?
Is outside not inside, inside
outside, and the whole of space
not a single foundation?
To leave the chapel, then, was not
to forsake an interior.
It was to cross from shade into shade,
from light into light.


You are in a place, the place is within you.
You still go on walking
slowly in the silent nave,
you would say your unheard footsteps
were fused in the vertigo of immobility,
when stillness and movement
dance in unity and only the light
bears witness to the dance.
Unity is light.

Posted: April 16, 2012 at 7:06 pm

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