Santuary by Julie Innis

On the seventh day of their travels, they wander through a gap in the high walls on an avenue between Chelsea and The Village. An ivy-framed plaque reads"Grace Cathedral." Grace defies physics with walls of impossibly large stainedglass windows framed by gray stone hovering in between. The man and woman stand in the shadow of a tall willow; she marveling at this small paradise so close to the City's din, and he wondering why no one else is present counting beads or touching fingers to foreheads and breasts in prayer. Above the carved wooden doors, as tone Virgin beckons with eroded fingertips. But the bolt is drawn, the doors locked. Later, a friend remarks, " I'm surprised you were even allowed through the gate--a woman was raped and murdered there last night."During dinner, the woman is distracted, trying to piece it all together--the absence of signs, no chalk lines or yellow police tape to greet them. How is it, she wants to ask, that such a horror could be swallowed whole so that the next day no mark remains on the cobblestone path or in the hollowed ground beneath the weeping willow? Instead she accepts the plate from her lover, his face a mass of irritation: "don't act like this now."Later she will try to explain her sadness at it all; that nothing remained; why, even snakes give back the bones.

2010 -Innis

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