Copyright (c) 1998 First Things 80 (February 1998):.
Patron Saints of Lovers
No cutie-pie cupid wings fluttering rings about the heart
or head, no fancy frilly two-way arrows,
or rose-colored alphabets shaped into vows;
just a pretty trick of history, an early-spring wish
when birds twittered about each other,
and Roman schoolboys, for love of Juno, drew girls' names
to tease them mercilessly with swatches of soft goat hide--
all to guarantee purity, which has nothing
to do with the celibate Valentines,
of which there were, indeed, two,
although in different times and cities:
a priest, a bishop, passionately faithful,
martyred separately, in love only with the red,
red blood of Christ.
Cracks in the pavement,
potholes pebbled with cold mix:
ice-hardened tires thump and jar.
Grip the wheel tightly;
hubcaps litter the street.
This is the season of lost pieces.
Thread carefully through the debris,
the frozen plastic
and the scraps of metal.
Streets fall apart,
paint flakes from the fenders,
axles bounce and bend,
and all we can do
is watch the rear view mirror
straining for a glimpse of summer
or wait for signs of hope--Men Working--
when suddenly the streets
flower with orange barrels in the spring.
Phoebe S. Spinrad