“I weary of writing more about these buildings, because it seems to me that I shall not be believed…” —Francisco Álvares, circa 1520
“None of this is possible,”
says Addisalem, attaching his
voice to a dozen centuries
of unfathomable sculpture,
“without the assistance of angels.”
As good an explanation
Surrounded, atop endless
cascading and precipitous
undulations reaching to and
once again receiving all the
beating blood of Earth,
Lalibela is the sweet sustaining
honey tasted, nourished
by those ancestors of us all.
Excised from the secret
single rock beneath this rusty soil:
Biete Gabriel-Rufael continues
to pay tribute and testament through green
Jordan waters, and a new-ancient,
stalwart road to Jerusalem.
Spelunking the strangely elegant caves
of Yimrehane Kristos exposes genuine
bones of bishops, impossible ministrations
of ornamenting chisel, a multitude of
contradictory meanings offered,
inflicted by this inevitably shared world.
There is Bietes Maryam and Meshel;
Medhame Alem and Golgotha Mikael;
Denagle Virgius and Saint Giyorges;
and the pleasing, familiar sound of Biete Lehame.
Absent explosives, patching concrete,
jackhammers and bills of sale, Lalibela
has no satisfactory explanation in dream
or logic, no complementary architecture
with which to gauge its forebears or
muscled man, these are the ancient,
nascent forms within the function
of our surfaces. These are the reasons
of which our reason knows not.
Here, there is no milk necessary;
only honey, catching angels like
a multitude of passing flies.
[Lalibela, Ethiopia, May 16, 2017]