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Rochelle Chapman

I live in Vancouver, BC. A year ago, I completed a Masters at Regent College (a theological school) where I did an arts thesis project in poetry. Since then, I have been working as a piano teacher and the youth coordinator of an Anglican church. I also take a poetry workshop at UBC to keep working on my writing.

I wrote this poem while taking a course in the history of Celtic Christianity. The excerpt of a Celtic poem that I integrated into my poem was the immediate inspiration. It reminded me of an event that had happened a few years earlier and helped me to make some meaning and sense of it. That is to say, the poem is not a literal representation of an event that happened to me, but I did in fact see a street person with a porn magazine in the Sacre-Coeur. It was a striking, baffling event in my life, and poetry can be a process of finding meaning and beauty in that, a way of locating where God is

Second Prize Winner: 2005 Utmost Christian Poetry Contest

The Sacré-Cœur

Let this be the end of vice in the enclosures of churches;
a lovely little cell among the graves, and I there alone.
                                                    early Celtic poem, anon.

In the autumn of her travels
in the Parisian Latin quarter
she climbs in pilgrimage
to the white-washed dome
of the Sacré-Cœur
high upon the hill
to enter into the heart of God.

In this hallowed place
a homeless man slumps in a back pew
thumbing through his porn.

The sacred and the profane
make love
in this confinement,
giving second birth.
Let this be the end of vice.

His dirty fingers, his filthy clothes, the smell of him,
and her, a showered traveller in search of sanctuary.

They come to hide
from their profane enemies
but find themselves face to face:
girl with camera,
man with pictures.

As far as the earth is from the heavens
she tries to walk upon holy ground,
seeks a worthy place for her worship.

He raises silent prayers:
Let this be the end of vice in the enclosures of churches;
a lovely little cell among the graves,
and I there alone.

She turns the other cheek
and walks away.
In some corner, she too will learn to pray.

Are all transfigured by this ascent?
Ever the homeless in these high places:
their stolen moments of ecstasy in the womb of God,
naked angels attending them,
sacred hearts pounding in their impassioned chests.

Copyright ©2005 by Rochelle Chapman