May 13, 2009 / Creative Writing
I watched Rebel Without a Cause on TV late one college night when I learned …
September 24, 2018
We climbed the sharp crag to the stark towers of Quéribus,
the last Cathar castle perched precariously against
an implacable blue sky. A lone golden eagle,
rapt defender, silently passed. The Cathars
rejected the world of the flesh: meat, wine, body.
But we were in France, and still in love. An appetizer
of creamy chèvre was waiting in the sun-drenched café
by the river. The blood-red Languedoc dozed in its carafe.
Above us, the foothills still brooded, wrapped in the past.
At Montségur, they were given the choice: convert or burn.
They all went up in flames, too pure for this world.
But here, the croissants are made of gold, and the coffee
is rich and dark as the robes of heaven. Our bodies
sang in the night. Forgive us, Good Men, Holy Cathars.
We love this flesh, the messy existence of sex, blood, birth.
And yet we look up at your abandoned fortresses carved out of cliffs
in a nest of air, walk the same stony steps you trod on your path
to God, and are left to ponder how you never wavered.
Barbara Crooker has published work in many journals, including the Christian Century, America, Sojourners, Saint Katherine Review, Perspectives, Literature and Belief, the Cresset, Tiferet, Spiritus, Assisi, Dappled Things, Ruminate, Rock and Sling, Relief, Seminary Ridge Review, the Anglican Theological Review, and such anthologies as The Bedford Introduction to Literature and Imago Dei. She is a recipient of the Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred Award and the author of twelve chapbooks and eight full-length books of poetry.