Jacques J. Rancourt


Saint-Joseph’s Oratory, Montreal


Didn’t I too once suck deep from the bosom of God?
In a cathedral in a part of the city where the Old World

is brought to the New, didn’t I see two walls
lined with canes and crutches? And the crippled,

those with crooked spines, were they not—at least some—
healed? And didn’t I also leave filled with a great hum

like the St. Lawrence flooding? And how long after
the last blast of the organ, how long does that sound

remain in the rafters or against the dome’s
peeled plaster? And how far from the cathedral

did the crippled walk before they realized
they still could not walk? And when they exhumed

the saints’ bodies, even after a hundred years,
didn’t those bodies still smell of roses? Or was it more

like how—from the right distance—
an onion smells sweet even after it’s rotted?

Jacques J. Rancourt’s poems have appeared in the Kenyon Review, New England Review, Ploughshares, Virginia Quarterly Review, and Best New Poets 2014. He’s held fellowships from Stanford University, UW-Madison, and the Cité Internationale des Arts.