Spring 1989 • Vol. XI No. 2 PoetryApril 1, 1989 |

Prayer and Vision in the Stave Church at Røldal

There are white lilies on the altar and I have come to pray. There are two candles burning near the lilies, and their light creates shadows that are cast across the pages of the open book. A new island rises out of the sea. The orange and yellow stone of molten lava is brilliant against the black and cobalt of ash and water. Above the island, a woman is rising through fire. Her sword is raised two-handed to the frightening sky, and snakes are crawling around her ankles in a river of scales and cold eyes. Her robes of white fur fall into the sea, and her body shines with the light of the moon. Rough-hewn and dripping lower into their wrought iron frames with the daily flow of gravity, the diamond-shaped panes of stained glass split the low sun. A dozen patterns of colored light move slowly across the dark stations of the cross. A wooden dragon breaks through the rising white haze of sea-smoke. The ship glides toward me, the oars rising and dipping in unison. The bow wa

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