Friday, January 21, 2022

No Loop’s Not an Open Spiral

Follow the wandering thread.
A mention of the battles
For Monte Cassino sends

The mind to St Benedict
And the unusual case
Of the Nazis carefully

Saving priceless artifacts
Ahead of Allied advance,
A fortunate salvation,

Since the advancing Allies,
Taking horrific losses,
Soon made the sort of mistake

That would become so common
In the next several decades
Of U.S. hegemony,

Concluding that the Abbey,
More than a thousand years old,
The oldest church in the West,

And just then unoccupied,
Concealed a Nazi unit,
Therefore bombing it to dust.

The thread extends to Walter
Miller, bomber tail gunner
And practicing Catholic,

Who took part in the bombing
Of the Abbey and later
Was inspired to write his own

Science fiction of the end
Of civilization saved
By monks as A Canticle

For Leibowitz. On a cliff
In the south Utah desert,
Near where Miller’s story’s set,

It seems strange, on reflection,
Given Benedict’s Abbey
Was pulverized so swiftly,

For one of the bombers’ crew
To imagine an abbey
Surviving Armageddon.

What happened once won’t happen
Ever again and never
Can be unhappened. Abbeys,

Bombings, battles, salvations—
Everything ever happened
Happened that once it happened.

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