Listen to "The Foot of Montségur"
read by Jessica Cuello
In 1244, one of the last surviving groups of Cathars, a heretical Christian sect, was burned at the foot of Montségur in the Languedoc region of France.
Not scared, only more awake since they hunted us. The ground divides in two: the circle where we shepherd us—singing for the end— and the ground out there. I think of the spaces where we existed. A rumor said we crept in and dug like animals a hollow for the grail. The friars weren’t listening at Albi or Verfeuil. We buried nothing. Landscape is a corner of my eye: papery like dry ashen leaves. The crusaders brought a map with blue cut into the outline of our Languedoc. I touched the lightweight edge, the places where our caves would be; we worshipped in the walls. I loved to steady the child’s head with a light touch on the ear, her patient stare while I combed the long hair back, breathed the cold cutting air, and buried the afterbirths. I knew there was no mistake about the body and routine. God did not send us out, but back. The most physical of all, I rocked as in a body, what I felt a boat must be. I see rocks, transparent, how grainy water is, and finally I watch the iron density of flame. All night, sun sets on the town. Easily they fit us in the circle. We are the last of us.