My Poem “The Devastation of Notre Dame”

Notre Dame is on fire.
Awestruck onlookers
are watching and witnessing
the horrifying destruction
of a French landmark
in the heart of Paris –
a place well-known,
iconic, holy, and meaningful
to the French people,
and to those who have visited
the beautiful City of Love –
as flames from within
the 850-year-old cathedral
rise and cause irreparable damage
to a French monument
that has always meant so much
to all who have gazed upon its breathtaking
gargoyle-adorned towers
and medieval architecture.

There are no words to describe
the images that the whole world
are seeing being displayed on T.V.
and being shared on social media,
and not even by those people
who are so close that they
can feel the heat
that is being emanated
from the burning building
from the other side of the River Seine
in silence, in shock, in disbelief
at what they are witnessing.

There are no words to describe
what has been lost…
there are no words to describe
the beautiful and unique
stained-glass artwork
that has been destroyed…
there are no words to describe
what scars will be felt
by those seeing such
a heartbreaking sight.

My heart goes out to those
who feel such a profound connection
to this well-known place of worship –
to all the residents of
and the visitors to
this historic and spiritual place
at the heart of the city of Paris,
as well the country of France itself –
all having to watch the dark silhouette
against the raging flames devastating
the iconic cathedral of Notra Dame.

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My Poem ‘Correspondant’

When I was 12 years-old
I had a pen-pal from France;
when I was in school,
I and the rest of my french-class
were asked to write a letter in french
to someone who had written a letter in English
to the person with the name
whom they had randomly picked out of a hat…
I was picked by a boy called “Sebastian” –
who I believe went to school in a town in Normandy –
and over the next few months
I would write in my best french to Sebastian,
and Sebastian in-turn would write
in his best English to me.
Sebastian would tell me about where he lived,
about his family, and about his love of the English-language.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Sebastian’s letters to me –
however, my competence in replying to Sebastian in french
left a lot to be desired, and after a while
I did not reply to Sebastian in the same frequency
as he was writing to me.

Sebastian sent letter after letter
about a myriad of different things that were happening to him –
but, unfortunately, my letter-writing to Sebastian
had gone from once a month to none-at-all,
which to this day still makes me feel horrible
and it is one of the many things that I regret
and which still picks away at my conscience.

When I was 12, I was not the writer that I am today.
When I was 12, “social-media” had not been invented,
neither had what we call today the “internet”,
and talking to someone in another country –
even as geographically close as France is to England –
felt as hard as talking to an alien a far-away galaxy.
When I was 12, school felt like a place
where I was forced to attend.
When I was 12, I did not understand
what in life is the most important.

I am in my thirties now,
and high-school, or secondary-school
as we call it here in England,
feels like it was many moons ago
than I can remember with as much clarity
as I have for yesterday –
however, as with many moments from my childhood,
there are things that still stand-out
and there are some moments
that rise to the surface of my mind randomly
when I least expect them to…
and today, on a rainy Saturday afternoon,
here in England, as I sit behind my desk,
in my bedroom, writing in my notebook,
is one of those times when something
and someone that I haven’t thought about in years
has flashed back to me and made me ask
with genuine fascination:
I wonder whatever happened to “Sebastian”,
my life-time ago pen-pal from France.