despite the beauty of the stone

Precisely placed—by orders
from the emir’s magi—amidst
oranges who fruit in winter—
stones in palimpsest speaking
of dynastic conflicts—
Into a gloom, eyes adjust—
a varicolored stone forest
built from dead Romans
whose bridge still crosses
the Guadalquivir—they
stand still, oblivious to history—
colored in sacrifice from
purest white bled to red—
Beneath this church another
that once harbingered
invading Visigoths—
these dragged from the dirt
of those same Romans praying
to the virgin—to Optimus Maximus
(no longer but once demanded bulls
of purest white bled to red)—
to slaves whose twitches on
deaths stones marked
the seasons for druids—
Prayer upon prayer upon prayer
and the palimpsest reeks of it
despite the beauty of the stone.


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