Friday, June 22, 2012

Critique and Craft: Place & Setting in Poetry • Church in Baja

Church in Baja

After crossing the border
and getting beyond Tijuana
the road narrowed. The road opened.
Wide to the imagination, exotic
dreams notwithstanding,
reality withstood the
test of time. Timeless poverty,
endless grace — the tiny village
built on brown dusty land.
Some huts had four walls —
all walls punched out of cardboard
reinforced with scraps of metal, old
patched tires, rolls of barbed wire —
roofs of rusted tin wobbling
atop those rickety frames.

Eyes up. From the desperate flatness
the site of a hill
all tufted with sweet grasses
and sagebrush abloom, a smooth
dirt road leading up, up, out
of the sad village to the smallest church
made of white stucco with no flaws,
a simple solid cross set
onto faded-red tile roof with no holes;
Narrow swept entry with no door
opened onto a hard dirt floor
with room for 30 knees kneeling
closely side-by-side, no benches
facing the adored altar — a small
wood table adorned with delicate
hand-laced cloth, and a bowl
of golden crockery holding water
warmed by the day.

Into the scrubbed stucco wall
an alcove was carved, where
a mosaic candle flickered — mottling
Mary's bleeding son — no stained
glass windows to enhance the passion,
nor needed.

                                       MLydiaM ~ June 2012

Written for Critique and Craft—Where in the World Am I: Place and Setting in Poetry at dVerse Poets.



hedgewitch said...

The sense of what is most precious to the human heart comes through here, a place of sanctuary and beauty that answers the needs of the spirit where the needs of the body too often go unfulfilled. I remember Mexico as one of the most alive places I've ever been--so sad to see the carnage that evil is wreaking there now, though that is very remote indeed from the world you invoke here.

goatman said...

I would need a place to swim; wash off the dust and all??

Victoria said...

What a great topic you chose, Lydia. This evoked very clear memories of my own visits to these Churches in Mexico and Central America. And I agree with Hedge, that you have created a feeling of sanctuary. Great response to the prompt.

rosaria williams said...

And what a setting you described, in each detail.

Brian Miller said...

nice...great description...i feel like a zoom lens too...ever narrowing in to that alcove...and yeah there is no need for the stain glass....smiles....lovely piece lydia

Claudia said...

oh i'd love to be there...wonderful capture... i was in barcelona last week and stood in gaudi's cathedral...awesome..but i just love the simple ones like those that you describe...and yep..those chapels need no enhancing of passion..

Lydia said...

hedgewitch~ Talk about most precious, that is what your comment was for me. Many thanks. I, too, was thinking of the devastation visited upon Mexico in the last years, and actually had difficulty at first just simply remembering the simplicity of this scene.

goatman~ The big blue place to swim was not very far away.

Victoria~ I am heartened that you and Hedge would find sanctuary in this piece. I found that to write it I had to turn off the computer and work it out on paper, something I have not done for ages and I liked it again. Thank you for the beautiful prompt.

rosaria~ Thank you; it was quite memorable.

Brian~ A zoom lens narrowing....what a grand thing for you to tell me. Thanks much.

Claudia~ Oh, and I envy you having been in Barcelona! Since becoming blogging friends with the marvelously gifted photographer, Carlos, at Barcelona Photoblog I have totally fallen in love with that city and want to roam it for days sometime in the future. :)

Rob-bear said...

Excellent poem, delightfully crafted.

Amber Lee said...

Oh, you put me right in that place, and filled me with nostalgia for it.

Lydia said...

Rob-bear~ Thank you kindly.

Amber Lee~ What a refreshing thing for you to think of. :)

susan said...

Your images made of words paint a very beautiful and timeless scene.

Lydia said...

susan~ Thank you, my friend.

Kathe W. said...

ah a perfect piece for those lovely simple churches- down to the basics of what is truly important

Lydia said...

Kathe~ Thanks much. It was obvious that it was what was truly important to the people who lived there. They put all of themselves into caring for it.

Penelope said...


Muhammad Israr said...

beautiful... i am amazed at the variety of skills that you can write poems and prose with equal ease and exquisiteness :) wonderful... someday i would become a writer like you :)

Lydia said...

Penelope~ So kind of you.

Muhammad Israr~ Friend, you truly humble me with this comment. I take it to heart and treasure it. And you are very humble about your remarkable story-telling abilities. I love your fascinating tales.



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