A Guide for the Visitors of Solovetsky Monastery

Alexandra Corinth

Are the waves always listening?

A Russian island on the west side of the White Sea,
shade and shelter from mainland polemics until its Catholicism
became merely theory, a smiling practice as fragile as
the clasp of their mother’s treasured bracelet.

Does your body remember the weight of embrace?

Life behind the monastery walls was simple once, trust like a platter of silver,
precious and yet always in service, a living luster of grace.

Must we weave so not to break?

But the sun of Lenin crested the waves, and the long shadows of the gulag
reached slender fingers to scoop the monks from their study, serve them up
to violent agnosticism and purloin their home for greater purpose.

Is forgiveness possible in this city?

Where holy men stood to receive resplendence,
prisoners could not fathom the will to labor, desperate to join their youth
as figments of the forgotten, held in a frame against the angry winter night,
fractured like stained glass, and almost as beautiful.

What stanchion keeps the past at bay?

Sometimes, you can hear the monks still singing, a chorus of amen
and thankful, blessed retreat, and underneath the tenor, a tremor of common grief,
and in both, a harmony of histories, a tender clamor.

Alexandra Corinth is a poet and artist living and performing in the DFW metroplex. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Thimble Literary Magazine, The Artifact, the mise en abyme poetry tarot project, Mad Swirl, and Atticus Review, among others. You can find her online at typewriterbelle.com.

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