Conjunctions:68 Inside Out: Architectures of Experience

Five Provence Poems

Safety lives high above itself, protected from what it needs.

It sees what it sees, sees

a cave in its flank.

Time, really: a strategy reconsidering itself.

Time: a narrow street whose height

doubles back.

Sees a bird in flight below it.

Sees a body in a vineyard taking grapes.

Road narrow with caution, height softening

in the cave.

Feels its knuckles burn, scraped on the fortification.


After Montségur

We voyaged into an architecture of nonexistence.

The shape of the fortress, the very

shape of the castle.

                       Perfection creates invisibility.

We voyaged into the same domicile
we warded off: perfected ruins.

The shape of a structure

is itself belief. Not yet,
but soon


To be unsexed, blanched by simplicity,
and rise high in one’s own architecture
over the terrain.

Crendenti, perfecti.

Only those abolished from the false haven
of their own bodies might lift a flare.

For to be a castle is always to be burned alive.


Notre Dame Des Grâces [Plague Chapel]

Wayfarers expect no sanctuary. Therefore

the structure itself is shallow, infectious.

The pilgrim seeks nothing but to get away. Destination

would have been a mortar, Yersinia pestis

would have offered itself frankly

the way arrival is an altar

that creases into itself. The way,

long since foregone, light arrives

drapes the floor, warming

the rat droppings.

The chapel is an attenuated

circulatory system. Within it, the bite itself can hardly

penetrate skin, portal. It had its own way:

to flee is to confuse destination with departure.

To bless is to hallow with blood.

The grace of

nowhere else to go, a flea, a soft



Village Des Bories

Cabane when inhabited.

Sol de cabane when not.




                       terms of endearment

Hut when it is inhabited.

Earth of hut when not.

Goats, fowl,
spider, moth, exile,
grain, migrant

Architecture whose structure
is inviolable and whose interior
is temporary.

Those who have no place to stay

may ration place here.


Dolmen de la Pitchoune

Time is a false start.

The pronoun begs for intimacy—her, you,

I, myself.

Space replete with time,

hollowed in the earth, hidden

by a road—road

           compassing time, to move

askance of space because askance

is intimacy, how the earth

recurs to itself in stone.
Small offerings, small floods.

Called the little one

Misremembering the interval, like

a capstone irregular with space.

She comes back to its shoulders

as though it were a body. Darkness

an unguent on a wound, on the road,

on the mortar that crusts and falls away.

Elizabeth Robinson’s books include Blue Heron and On Ghosts. She lives in Boulder, Colorado, and works at a day shelter for homeless people and the working poor.