Monastery of Fonte Avellana

I woke up in the guesthouse under layers
of military wool blankets, heavy but unable to lessen
the late December cold. I went outside in the lingering
darkness of winter. Early morning and silence.

The forested mountains, shadows more imagined than seen.
No wind, no sound louder than my steps crunching gravel, no street
or house lights piercing the blackness. If the sky had been clear,
stars would have seemed ready to rain on my hands.

Inside the church, the air carried the familiar smells
of wood, wax and incense. Down in the stone-vaulted crypt
suffused with soft light, eight monks stood in a semicircle
behind the altar, straight and solid as stone columns.

As if they’d been waiting for me, they started to chant matins,
their faith, imbued the space with the certainty they cultivated
in the garden, in the monastery on the mountain. Two splayed windows
broke the apse, one central, the other off to the right.

Through the clear glass, blackness softened into indigo.
Standing in the crypt, lulled by the monk’s deep voices, the energy
coursing through trees, stones, arches, flowed through my body.
The first ray of light entered the crypt, lifted the shadows.

A place in memory to return to, call it faith, call it a presence.
Between darkness and day, matins, the canonical hour
of that passage, of being born, first light, first breath,
all the trails ahead still possible, waiting for sunrise.

Simona Carini was born in Perugia, Italy. She writes poetry and nonfiction and has been published in various venues, in print and on line. Her first poetry collection Survival Time was published by Sheila-Na-Gig Editions (2022). She lives in Northern California with her husband, loves to spend time outdoors, and works as an academic researcher. https://simonacarini.com

See more of Simona's work in 4.2 and 5.1 and 5.3 and 7.1 and 9.1 and 9.1

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