“Sunday Baroque” on the radio,
making pancakes with the last
of last summer’s berries, we stop,
silent, as Allegri’s Miserere fills the house
with the accompanying hot light
of this eleventh September.
Miserere mei, Deus: secundum
magnam misericoridiam tuam.
Nine unaccompanied voices
sang the first Miserere for Tenebrae
in the Sistine Chapel, Holy Week, 1638,
the year John Milton came to Rome
after meeting blind Galileo.
Did he listen in the dark on Good Friday,
The Creation of Adam on the ceiling above
a century after Michelangelo swayed
on the scaffold, and did he ponder
the optic glass pointed at the moon,
paradise lost and the falling angel?
Back and back in the human past,
the plea for mercy; in all present tribulation,
the plea for mercy.
Have mercy upon me, O God:
after Thy great goodness.
The earth revolves around the sun.
Sweet purple stains our plates, crumbs
in honey, the yellow butter.