I step into what was once
a clandestine Catholic church
(1581, Amsterdam)
and try to imagine the scene—

parishioners breaking the law,
slipping quietly into pews
to worship their banned God
behind black windowpanes,

perhaps I am sitting
in the same place
another woman sat;
are her tearstains on the floor?

did she light a candle;
did she bring her children here;
did they whisper prayers;
did she escape a bitter fate?

a shiver runs through me,
as though I’ve stepped
over someone’s grave;
I light a candle for the ghosts.