Photo by Olivia D Bryant
Early June 1539
Near the edge of the village I pause in exhausted reflection,
knowing my journey is approaching its end and
lifting a prayer that the pilgrimage has not been made in vain.
My feet, although covered in a thin mask of leather,
are raw with biting blisters and fatigue;
and the audible protest from this empty stomach
echoes in my weary wake.
The idea of dignity defeating my desperation at this point is absurd;
I survey the dusty panorama in hopes of finding a morsel
that has been dropped or discarded along the street.
Nothing save refuse and pebbles line the path
as I force the muscles in my calves to gain each subsequent step;
I feel the disdain of a merciless gaze upon me from behind.
I dare not turn, but continue on towards what appears to be
a chapel in the center of the town, lest my myopic weakness
has created a cruel mirage some fifty yards ahead.
Bells peal lightly into the evening announcing vespers.
I take an unassuming position behind the crowd hoping
for a moment's respite and a blessing for my parched lips.
My entrance is denied by the dark haired man draped in ceremonial robes
and an undeniable lack of piety as he makes his assessment
of the haggard stranger at the bottom of the steps.
My attention to his apologue is short lived,
and my faltering vision affixes itself on the breviary
clutched tightly in his hand.
I fade into the void of my own enervation
regardless of my will to live.
The bells are infused with a slightly sweeter color now,
accompanied by a delicate intonation from a quartet
of flutes that can be labeled no less than divine.
Alas, my mouth is no longer dry.
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