The steps of the Sacre-Coeur
billow down the hill like a robe,
and hundreds loiter on the hem, maybe
hoping to be healed. Church steps have cradled
them for centuries—the crippled, the homeless, the lost
tourists, the tired pedestrians—but here at this place are three
hundred steps instead of five or ten. The loiterers stretch on and on,
packed tight as pigeons, taking pictures, drinking lukewarm Heineken,
kissing at sunset, and all with their backs to the basilica, they face the city.
They do not turn. None of them could stand before the domes without keeling backwards and crashing down the grime-stained steps back to earth. So they sit upon the stone skirts, crouching toward the deep streets of the world, held there.