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The Adventures of Joan D'Ark: The Notre Dame Fire

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Glass of Notre Dame
Glass of Notre Dame
(Image by Eustaquio Santimano from flickr)
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The Adventures of Joan D'Ark: The Notre Dame Fire

by John Kendall Hawkins

Joan D'Ark sits in the ruins of Notre Dame
Joan D'Ark sits in the ruins of Notre Dame
(Image by John Hawkins)
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I.

She sat there sullen in the ruins of Our Lady, smoking a Gauloise, its wisps forming question marks in the air. Warumstreamed through her earbuds. She loved Schumann. What was Joan D'Ark gonna to do? She'd spent countless hours of meditation in the sublime darkness of the Cathedral, sitting there in a pew, sometimes staring at the silent, soulful vigil candles, their ethereal flames jittering, tentative, purgatorial, or gazing up at the stained glass windows, following the colorful narrative of saints and pilgrims's progress toward salvation, and what not -- what genius to bring such light into a cavern that way! -- or over and up at the bony Gothic columns and vast painted ceilings, depicting a mind conflicted by the terrible beauty and the terror of Creation, in this charnel house of eternity, a space bracketed off from the busy commerce outside its doors, a sanctuary from the honks and horns of arrogant materialism, hundreds of years old, the darkness and silence itself a soul of hermetically sealed suspirations of all those who have ever breathed in this chamber, commingled coughs and farts, homilies and coronations, elegies and promises of the Life to Come to make up for the suffering, the suffering of mortal being, and the body at the mercy of desire. She clicked off her device, and Schumann, who had never been played in the cathedral, dissolved into silence in her head.

Joan extinguished her Gauloise with a twist of her toe. She surveyed the damagein the darkness partially illuminated by moonlight pouring through the hole in the roof -- a hole through which the vintage suspirations had oozed out and upward into the material ether and disappeared forever, with the smoke. Motherfuckers, she thought to herself, unbalanced for a moment on a tightrope between conspiracy theory and conspiracy knowing, the fall all the same either way. She looked at the organ, beneath a Rose Window, with its 8000 pipes, and remembered listening to a recital of Couperin's Chaconne in G, the organist, like a weaver, using his hand and feet to loom together notes, chords, expressions, the cathedral space as lungs breathing the gases of suspirants through the pipes in a communion of old and new souls. She was sad, she was angry, she was ready to beat some snot out of someone. But who?

She recalled Philippe de Villiers and the interview he did with Le Figaro, where he waxed lamentoso about the loss, the loss of Notre Dame, while also going on about how Our Lady would rise again out of the ashes, as if it had been some self-immolating Phoenix just processing postmodernism, ready to come back stronger than ever, the Sacre'-Coeur of the French soul. She couldn't help it; she regarded him as a turd, and his speech, though rousing, sounded to her like "La Marseillaise" erupting in Rick's Cafe to 'f*ck you' the Nazis across the bar, Rick mooning and drowning in Ilsa tears. Enough of the sentimentality, she thought. Still, she read:

LE FIGARO. - Notre-Dame de Paris burnt down to the day a year ago. What memories do you keep of that night?

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John Kendall Hawkins is an American ex-pat freelance journalist and poet currently residing in Australia. His poetry, commentary, and reviews have appeared in publications in Oceania, Europe and the USA, such as Cordite, Morning Star, Hanging (more...)
 

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