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  • Nancy Dobson

Solemnity | By Nancy Dobson

This isn’t Notre Dame, the woman behind me hisses at her husband.

No, I think defiantly, it’s better.

But to honor the stillness in this cathedral, I say nothing.

After all, I came here for the silence.

The pink pamphlet in my hand, adorned with a Union Jack,

informs me this church possesses the largest organ in Paris.

Take that, Notre Dame, I smirk inwardly.

Everything in this city has a story:

the chalky pillar I run my hand over,

an intricately painted door propped open,

a soot-damaged statue of the Virgin Mary,

where I pay a Euro to light a candle at her feet.

Stained glass tips light over her shoulder;

it spills onto the floor in a puddled rainbow.

The tiny flame flashes, as if to chide me—

happiness might be mine if I prayed.

I wander for an hour through each widowed alcove,

study a restored Delacroix mural,

place my palm on a marble pillar

carved in the eleventh century.

My fingers trace a wooden railing edging the nave.

These things are holy,

I touch them, but I do not pray.


Nancy's work has appeared in a variety of print and online publications including Capsule Stories, Madcap Review, and Skyway Journal. She also contributes to Gold Man Review as an assistant editor. Though not a frequent tweeter, she can be found on Twitter @nancy_dobson. she/her

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