A flare had caused the cars to swerve
With shattering glass and barriers wrenched and ended;
The hotel St. Bonaventure, rising at the curve,
Lifts gilded cylinders like rosaries suspended.
A fireman turns; an engine backs askew;
By the side of the road a priest kneels absolving
A dying passenger already screened from view;
Saint and ambulance wait with lights revolving.
The uniformed attendants leave the scene,
Eyes veiled, their efforts unavailing;
Resplendent towers, consolatory or assailing,
Reflect without reflecting from a soundless sheen.
The hooded face of Bonaventure broods
Over the embankment in a vitreous sheath
Of cowled steel with beams half-seen beneath:
Weight that levitates and gravity that eludes.
The crowd waits for a message, a conveyance,
In the shadow of the Franciscan who hovers
Over the arroyo as each new penitent discovers —
Stopped — a sudden stillness, life in abeyance.