all saints day, 1999

bong, bong, bong
the mournful bell
rang three-quarters
high above us
as here below
the harried priest
hurriedly lit candles
in the old wooden
chandelier swinging
from the octagonal tower
closed to visitors
he must have said —
i don’t remember now —
closed for services
on the feast
of all saints
outside, the square
was strangely quiet
and the shops
were shut tight
for the day
of holy obligation
(or holiday time)
yet one baker
sold us Printen
and warm spices
graced our tongues
and our hearts
that last morning
in charlemagne’s city
twenty years ago
once upon a time