(November 1998)

Copyright (c) 1997 First Things 87 (November 1998):.

the road to St. Catherine's

yoga is bogus
to DesCartes
father of the modern art
of keeping
body and soul apart

ask directions
at Simmons Store
a racy

eighty year old maid
a high heels lipstick
and cigarette
on her rocker
with a cheap romance
gives the yoga teacher
a withering glance
a distracted look

"all the way up
and all the way down
steep snake hill
then left right left
you’ll spy

the Congregrational steeple
kept lighted at night
high over the fields
St. Catherine's is right by"

Father Maroney greets me
with a twisted smile
from a heart attack
only a short while back
I do hahayana meditation
in his basement
with my class
the All Saints' Day mass
and I hear
the words of consecration
for the first time
in twenty years

The road to St. Catherine's
is a quaint old
within it
both Buddha and DesCartes
get trapped
by the Sacred Heart

---Susan St. Martin

All Saints’ Day

Waiting behind burned-out jack-o’-lanterns for day to come,
the saints clap their stigmata hands.
They are the sun’s halo, shimmering the November air
with celestial simplicity; the sky, their dried blood.
By the time we wake on All Hallows,

weary from our own werewolves and witches,
the narrow sidewalks are crowded, the Christian dead
hopscotching between the cracks
we’ve let creep parallel to where we live.

And soon, yes, they’ll be marching triumphantly
past the graveyard, cymbals like offering plates at their hips,
the old spiritual clanging the neighborhood,
saxophones and trumpets blasting the last
doubts from our ears.

Of course, we will follow,
stiff in our nightshirts, too human for holiness
but hungry enough to shadow their sanctified sufferings,
genuflect with them in the cold gothic
arch of the cathedral where,
with the canonized, we will feast greedily
on the Body and Blood.

---Marjorie Maddox

All Souls’ Day

We stack the dead
names of the faithful
high in the incensed air,
light prayers beneath them
till the altar burns with words.
The nave knows their smoke,
remembers our memories of them.
The chancel recants our absence
from their lives until we live
again in the space at the rail
beside them, these saints
unSainted, the faint flames
of our unmartyred selves
riding their iridescent fires.

---Marjorie Maddox

November Funeral

From faded grass beneath the bole
the last red windfall hunted down,
last marigold, last aster blown,
the dingy shades of autumn fall
and tinctures drown.

The orange-flash hunters go to ground;
a gray reed takes the wind and sways.
Season of death and fruitlessness:
Green sea-ducks flee the leaden sound
and all tones cease.

Where is the cast of summer’s air?
Nothing is until it’s gone.
On that gray day we graved her down
the long black hills to dark seas where
dead colors run.

---J. Bottum