Artwork © Luis Lázaro Tijerina


The Sunken Cathedral

          After Debussy’s Préludes-
              La Cathédrale engloutie
                             (For R.L.)

In these last days of February, the night spills
into the streets like black ink,
I hear piano keys move like swift tides,
Undulating waters of the deep Saint Lawrence,
A conquered city still breathing with resistance
before a mouth to the Atlantic…
Quebec City, that engulfed city of light
and ancient cannon.
Quebec City, that cathedral which emerges
not from the sea but from a great river,
The high cliff, where her people and bells sing
to old and new deaths,
Amid her stone walls, I hear harmonies—
an ancient Breton myth swelling against boulders,
not an Aegean song,
Sung by Oysseus Elytis with Greek mourning,
But a sunken boat of chimes’ emerging slowly,
The fog moving up from the banks
into deserted streets, sailors’ cut-glass tearing the sky,
Near that field where men died,
The tenants, in the rooming house I live in,
Scuttled like shipwrecks.

I, an old man, driven by dry vanities,
The crimes we keep, you and I,
I hoard under the elm tree in late winter,
On the island, Île d’Orléans, there I meditate in what I can
and cannot believe in.


Luis Lázaro Tijerina was born in Salina, Kansas. Mr. Tijerina has a Master of Art degree in history, concentration being military history and diplomacy. He is a published author of military theory, short stories, essays and poetry. Mr. Tijerina resides in Vermont.