“Abbey of Our Lady at Gethsemani” by Sherry Chandler
Bells clang. For matins maybe or lauds.
The Hours of prayer are chimed, the knell
of ordinary hours and quarter hours
resounds across the countryside.
Beyond these walls the earth shudders
with Reaper drones and Hellfire missiles.
Mountaintops are leveled, bedrock
fractured. Border fences rise
and island countries drown. Trappists
singing praise the clock around
may weight the scales toward the good
as much as president or pontiff,
but the calendar I thought to flee
is woven, rough as a jute string,
into the cloistered air by clanking bells.
I give up scattershot sleep, open
my window to the coming dawn.
The moon illuminates the garden,
the stations of the cross, the statue of Mary.
The globe she stands on might be Earth,
the writhing snake at her bare feet,
by the shape of its head, is deadly.
She tramples it with alabaster toes.
I stroke the curves of my cobra earrings,
a small silver joke unnoticed
in this earnest place where, huge
on the horizon, Luna casts shadows.
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Sherry Chandler lives on 57 acres of woods and grassland in the heart of Kentucky. Her work is
informed by her intimate knowledge of this place – its light and its shadows, the population of
plants and animals whose space she shares. Chandler’s childhood taught her the music of
language, but two decades working as a writer and editor in academic medicine taught her the
discipline of the English sentence. Both the music and the discipline contribute strongly to her
craft. Her work has been widely published in both print and online periodicals and anthologies,
such as The Louisville Review, the Cortland Review, and Kestrel. Chandler’s first published
poem appeared in 1993, when she was in her late 40s, her first chapbook in 2003. She has since
published two full-length collections, Weaving a New Eden and The Woodcarver’s Wife. As
Molly Peacock says, “Some things take living long enough to do.”