Your shoulders in overhead sweeps
pulling you through the dark water
--you're turning the Earth
from its center, eyes closed
as if you still need the soft, white pillows
the nurses left at your sides.
It still snows, it rains
and my eyes too are useless
without some glass bent over to comfort them
--we can't look up, blindfolded
like a man about to be shot
his eyes kept empty
as if they could reach out
fill his ears with riversides
--what you hear is this Mason jar
and the fresh mound
these berries will feed
--they're sweetening the winter now
and the fields grow fat, peaceful
--you hear its jar from the middle
and the dirt that must know by now
still sniffs my hand
streaming with blood
and the fingers too are missing.
Barely coating the corner trim
this dark green must think it's summer
and pinecones shimmering
till the knots too show through
--even the air, back and forth
till a thin breeze
warms the wood, covers your arm
still coming out the ground
and opening outward
--this paint will take years
dries the way I move to a new place
--first, it can be sure this house
will be pulled by a river
that's been forgotten
then slowly opens the sky and around you.
Two syllables :the curve
where her name can turn homeward
and the path take on the shape
the spiral working its way
--you see the name bend
leaving your eyes
for the ice that trembles between your hands
and rivers sinking into the Earth
--in your arms her name and its shadow
has a forehead, made from iron
--you can't lift it closer, kneel
till no light enters or leaves
--two sounds that have no sound
but the longing for the small feathers
that flutter past your lips
shake the sky loose and in your arms.
The air I breathe out stays cold
fills with stones and unyielding flowers
--I still gather these sharp blooms
fold my shoulders over the height
that arrives without trees
without the space between them --each
another stone and falling through the sky
its breeze rippling outward
turning back the sun, bloodstained, lifeless
left rearing from the battlefield
one by one, carried out
never again so blue
and looking for flowers.
It's not the needle, leaving
is always faint, a metallic hum :my blood
and along this clear glass tube
while you stare from some cockpit canopy
banking slowly into ice, then rain, then ice
never coming to an end
--not the sudden breeze
unfolding under my skin
though you grip my wrist, count the years
till I say that in the dark
my breathing slows --more light! and you
press a small warm bulb into my eyes
tell me inhale, deep, go down
--come back, you say, kisses
will bathe me, --my blood show where
--a plane can't just disappear
its enormous wing embedded in my heart
and fill this tube, piece by piece
falling without me.
One by one and every Spring my eyelashes
somehow taller, lush, almost green
--every few hours I need rainwater
more blades --3, 6, 10 times a day.
How red the sea must have been.
I don't let my beard and the leaves
are gone :shave till my face
smells from those seablooms
that became my heart, my arms
my legs too need running water
and birdsong --this razor
can't keep up! tree after lifeless tree
chipped for its still warm dust
for that first timid wave taking root
on shore as if all these warm breezes
now filled with soft seawater
new branches :Spring, one behind the other.
Dorian's lips in ruins
and the slow song
that never catches up --her son
not yet named, almost weightless
born with a bone already broken
and his arm left to heal.
Perhaps he will remember
how sometimes even the sea
needs more room, even that tiny hand
wanting to take hold the world
--perhaps with a name, made whole
by a sound that left some far coast
shipwrecked, to make an offer.
The doctors say but what
Carotid Song: A Kind of Triolet
She proclaimed, “I am the MasoChrist,”
and took a karate kick to the carotid.
Feeling dizzy, as if shaking off lice,
she uttered, “I am the MasoChrist!”
Her aggressive partner said, “You must slice
through your self-importance and be rid
of any notion you are the MasoChrist.”
She delivered a stunning blow to his carotid.
under the gray paint
maybe still the
DNA of your palm.
It was the first night.
I wish I had known
I’d already fallen
for your voice,
your stories on night
radio. Who could
want a man without
a treasure of tales?
Isn’t it when each
person’s stories run
out it starts to get
boring? Your plastic
leg like a totem
while you held me,
too few nights, the
beat that my heart
Never worry, my sweet girl. Never worry. He has no hidden agenda. No secret plan. He just likes you is all. And tells you so. Never worry, sweet girl. He has enough support to get through this spell. He'll figure it out. And he'll do things for you, if you would just let him. Let the poor boy, my sweet. Let him have his moment of being normal, and paying for his dear new friend to have a nice time out. It's for him, you see. Just know that. You would not be doing this otherwise. I understand. And so does he. He just likes you is all. And wants to help. Just let the boy. And he's your friend for life. Know that too. For life.
So when he calls from the phone on the corner, let him. Just let him. He’ll lay your number on the table by the window, and he’ll think about it for a spell in the couch. But then he will get up, walk to the window, lift the pad and call. Just let him.
And be calm. Let the new angles of life allow you to see clearly. He's got a clear view of them. He'll show you. He'll take your hand and hold it easy and snug. Just right. And if this is hard for you, please just tell him. He'll understand and slip out of sight. But if you can manage a smile, please tell him it is ok. My dear sweet girl. My dear. He's falling. Falling hard. Don't be afraid. It's silly. Just let him. Let him fall and he'll do whatever you need. Anything. Just keep this on the outside. No need to hide anything. He's honest to a fault. You see, it helps him remember. Lies get lost. But you, you would never be lost. You just smile and be you. That is all he requires. And my dear sweet girl, he's your friend for life. Just know that.
So be calm. There is nothing to worry about. Nothing. It's easy. Just relax and be calm. Your calming will calm him. And perhaps you will see that he has gone insane. Entirely insane. And you will see this if you see him through the window he is calling from. Insane.
PAM (STARING INTO THE SUN)
The Psychoanalysis of Clarence Checkeredfish
Eclipse. We dance
in the absence.
Feet create new steps.
Arm flail religious
because bees are
stagnates the air.
Data streams dam
We writhe ringed
by the corona. An
infant's picture is
encircles the body.
Those pleasant few
who gaze with open
intensity are rewarded
with inner sight. Fights
explode anxiety. The
moon freezes, lingers
longer than one expects.
Bats emerge early to
feed. Sonar hears
a brand new world.
These chiropterans fly
into the unshrouded sun
never felt before.
You see the dead again goggle-eyed
in the ruins
and the astonishment
of the living
with child-like eyes
still to exist
At the end of the tunnel
the sun salutes
those who are going to kill
to kill again
TO KILL AGAIN
In the recognized warmth
the taste of death
is no longer the same
At the end of the gun
always the same scene
as in the cinema
the bodies crumple one after the other
blood has such a particular smell
that of forbidden games
In your sleep
the charnel-houses pass by where
the twisted bodies
always have the same posture
astonished to be there
and to have been blasted so quickly
They advance step by step
You might think they were
do not kill
to feed themselves
I have lost my address
on a lovely summer's day
the countryside was so beautiful on that day
here and there
some smashed houses were smoking still
four or five blackened corpses punctuated the landscape
with the black veil
of crows at work
I have lost my address I tell you
I lived in Auschwitz
or Grozny I believe
I ask you
There are no more words
to use for war
the murderers took them away
to bury them further away
the shores of oblivion start
Translated from the French by Brian Cole
You send your hands across but the light
stops in time --to the end
you never hear its screech
and though the wind returns from just so far
your hands are raining --they remember
when once the sun broke loose
and everything on Earth, even these stones
sang to call it back --a soft rain
holding on to that light the sun
still retrieves :each morning an ancient lullaby
thriving on the sun --you still keep
a small bulb lit and facing north
guiding the sun --still sit alone
at a table, at a come here
and lead your hands across the same light
that throws the moon on its side
--you reach for darkness everywhere
trust this distance racing toward you
--at every window you become weightless
and the wall still warm
pushing each star back to one another
--you fill your hand
with another hand, with singing, a light
almost asleep, closer and closer.
You tried to say, Send distances
missing all these years --words
don't need a mouth
for a landmark --they find their way
through stones in riverbeds
in old bread that has your soft voice
your drifting away, hands closed.
It's not a particular bird
that the bath in the backyard
thaws and the water in your lips
becomes dark red :a great wave
come back from somewhere far
sweeping away and in my arms
--I send you distances --one by one
one from this bird, one from
these few seeds
and I am over the world
feeding the world through Spring
through its Winter.
You tried to say and this birdbath
whose stones still damp from the beach
huddle --I drink from here
as in a small cemetery
after a warm rainfall and my mouth
fills with flowers and distances.
You can’t imagine the kinds of things that live in the desert. Sharp, scaly rocks of things. Wet, globular clouds that shimmy across concrete. These things are like yeast, lying dormant until brick-oven heat whittles their shape. They burrow in the skin beneath your fingernails.
Everything I own is packed. Everything I own has been divided and packed into twelve boxes. The boxes sit in the corner of a living room, inside a tract house. I don’t own the tract house.
I spend a lot of time trying to remember what is in each box. Books in the bottom five. Pictures and bedding in the middle four. Wine glasses and kitchen knives in the top three.
The middle four trip me up. I think I’m failing to account for something. It’s everything I have not to tap out one of the boxes like a Jenga block and rip it open at the flanks to check.
I have never seen hours move this slowly. In the desert, time is dead.
I sleep in the sun. Let it rip my skin at its seams, boil out an Irish girl’s desperate tan. Nevada sun is wicked. Maybe the balance to California’s honey-spitting version. It dances between the deadly and the spiritual; in the desert, you are always poised between death and godly epiphany.
I decide the purpose of my being in the desert is to find a way out.
In the morning there is hope; I scour the internet for jobs in San Diego, Boulder, and Portland. It wanes at noon; I run countless miles, chiseling legs to flee on foot (should it come to that). In the evening I am faithless; I mix vegetable juice with vodka and cross my eyes at the Martha Stewart granite floors.
Months masquerade as decades in the desert. I’m hired out of state four months after I arrive.
I can start next week, I tell them. They ask, don’t I need time to pack my things? No.
Heat is rising off the ground in visible waves the day I leave. Like water running over glass. Nauseating. My boyfriend helps load a (small) U-haul trailer. I carry a garbage bag of broken things to the curb. An empty bottle shard pokes through the plastic. It digs deeply into my right calf. I bleed everywhere.
My boyfriend argues with me about the Las Vegas emergency room. No. We’re losing time. I pull vodka out of a small cooler and drain it over the wound. I create a paper-towel bandage, seal it with electrical tape.
The U-haul bounces-a giant tin can-as we exit the desert. I am only vaguely aware of leg-blood pooling beneath the tape’s adhesive, dripping down the dash.
The first time Sweet Baby stopped flowing
her mama bathed her in a tub
till her skin ran livid
as her sunset hair.
Next time, she forced her daughter to mount
her horse, bareback, and ride between stones
crowning through hills
back and forth for weeks.
Not once thinking
perhaps the poor girl's eggs
simply shrank from fear,
that all she needed was
to meet new people,
eat a good steak.
1. a big job
he must have looked at the mountain
thousands of times yet it never
and this disturbed him
because he knew change
but from his perspective he couldn't fathom
how he could imagine
he wouldn't be able to see
until it was too late
or he climbed the mountain
and it would change him
from afar he said
the mountain is very beautiful
perfect in its own
well documented way
but up close up real
not so beautiful
slippery edges of shake
very hard to walk on
difficult to see
feet slipping on top of a mountain
from the sea town
where i live
3. invasion of the moles
when the mountains arrived
they tried to tell us
how big the gods are
how small we must be
but for the most part
we didn't listen
we wanted to conquer
the mountain gods
try to place us above
nature or feed ourselves
4. the death zone
above the death zone
the mountain will eat you
above the death zone
life is suspended
toes and nose turn black
as gravity asks you
yet wings do not work
words are useless
you cannot remember your prayers
when you need them most
air is lonely
your money will not save you
strange voices whisper your name
all names are the same
radiation cooks your brain
hearts must rise
to the occasion
5. the peak
you can see forever
you can live forever
forever is such a short time
time is compressed
no pressure to return
the world is at your feet
there is nothing to buy
perspective is lost
there is no sex
no drink no drugs
life is a dream
House lights here and there
in night’s deep pool flicker
like benevolent stars:
but black, Dakota air
douses each spark.
Or else we see our own lights
bounced weakly back
from aluminum cans
or prairie dog eyes.
Your silence comforts me.
I miss you when I blink.
I strain to keep
everything in sight.
No landmarks loom up—
so we could be in a sea
with fish that always sleep.
Some artist showed deft control
painting a perfectly straight
infinite yellow stripe.
"the earth vibrates and we get wet//little red leaves fall//breathing on my back (spine) trying to enter me //like I am a door// like I am a room only, like I am-- //through all of the embers//enders//end//end-ings//memory again curses, pulses//revolts the inner workings of the human clock//tickticktick//tock//a bomb going off each time your chest contracts."
As if somnambulist.
As if walking off the cliff
with arms outstretched,
eyes closed. As if
somniloquy: out, out—
our usual discussion.
Goldfish thrashing about
all night. Eyes open,
unblinking. As if lucid.
As if we know how
the sun reveals us: pellucid,
beneath the ice. Mouths
open. Wide open.
Sonnet for The Fool
I am the me in mine own story:
one step away from cliff, a handkerchief
hung on a stick. Stray dog, I’m you. You’re me,
so deeply leap, your whiskers so! Try this:
deal six cards to the dog. Le chien, the kitty,
a face-down pile: the valet, cavalier,
the dame and roi. Don’t forget moi, say me.
I’m your excuse, your guard against the way
that zero multiplies. As zero, I
rule no one yet I’m equal to the king.
No fooling, no u-turns. The joker’s wild,
out of the game. Talk about trick-making!
I count me in & on each hand, unspoken
triumph: never taking, never taken.
Leaving Texas Sonnet (II)
Who knew we still had gold-
mines? Altitude-sick, we’re cold
in the throes of spring. Call it high.
Call it yours, call it mine:
the sandwich between us
on the seat. Jesus-
streaks, the storm clouds part.
A tunnel straight into the heart
of the mountain. Beloved,
there is no mountain, only
paper cut-outs. Each one casts
a layered shadow higher than the last.
If this were your last day on earth
what would you do? Repent, and pray.
Three sparrows on a wire.
No weighty portent, this.
I search mosquito bites, my mumped-up face
for signs. Last year, before
our trouble started, you said:
Scarlet parrots with emerald eyes
escaped from the pet shop, perhaps,
an aviary at the zoo,
or the cynical widow’s window box,
feral now, unfurled
upon the city’s twilit shoulders.
Raucous cries commute their gorgeous warning.
But now the only sound to heed, the folding
of road maps in my lap. Listen:
Days Lost To History With No Eyewitness
Small moments. Places once lived, streets the once familiar routine of someone else’s days. Would it be an epic night, then? A Hank Williams June night in a high school gym in some small Arkansas town circa 1952? There was a motorcycle--a Ducati--parked in a thick scattering of fallen leaves, reds, especially, every hue from a deep, rich wine, crimson red to a soft fading pink. It was a time for one of those small moments, when a woman walks out of a pizza on a warm, humid summer night. Or was it a piazza? Most people are traveling endless highways looking for somebody they left behind. A look, a glance in the street, from someone you don’t know, never did, and never will, hanging like a guitar chord in the cold night air. A song, late at night. Never come back; never return. Cold, Cold Heart.
Some are More Equal than Others
Strands of blonde hair stuck against Adele’s wet cheeks, mixed with rivulets of running mascara. A cigarette burned between two fingers and her lips were never far from her rum and coke as she sat on the patio of the bar with Elizabeth.
“It never would have worked, I know that,” Adele sniffled, “He was just too different.”
“People work through their differences when they are in love.”
Adele grabbed her friend’s arm and looked directly into her eyes. “No. I mean different. Like physically.” She nodded for emphasis, then leaned in and whispered into her friend’s ear.
Elizabeth pursed her lips. “Oh, my. You never told me that about him.”
“Well, it’s not something you talk about.” Adele looked away and shivered at a memory before inhaling the last of her drink. “I could never spend my life with someone who was so … odd. I know it’s shallow. I know it’s wrong. But I am who I am.”
Adele got up to leave, then looked back and slurred, “I’ll be alright,” before stumbling down the street, her long blonde monkey tail swishing around of its own accord from the bottom of her skirt.
Under Painted Skies (Haibun)
Faces and limbs of plump angels frolic across the
ceiling of St. Peter’s. I stand, head-back, then
sit down, overwhelmed by brilliant blues and reds,
the height of pillars and statues. A group of
tourists stand to one side, listening to their
tour-guide. They focus cameras and click north,
south, east, and west. I, and the white-haired man
asleep on the chair in front of me, will be shown
on film in China.
his slow breathing
with my own
Your Mission, Maggie, Should You Accept It, Is the Thirteenth Letter of the Alphabet
an omen or a thousand omen
crumbs in the woods no one remembers, the hum in a dream
magpies, mariachi band in drag, rattle pine tree gloom
the widow commits a minnow of mourning crime
diamonds are a girl’s best mend
the muse, a maniac with rhyme and a metronome
Micky and Minnie eating M&M’s
a megalith, a monolith, a menhir, the little lullaby at the end of home
a man with one says I must put in a mustache
rum, each drop, melodious morphine to a skid row bum
trombone, trumpet, tam-tam, a vibration smash
mountain peaks, turned upside down, you’re reflected in lake’s womb
the thirteenth line, mission accomplished, om
As a backdrop
there would be scars of war on the curtains of time,
the indifference of men,
the impure truth of arms leveled at anything that moves,
the din of life that rebels at every moment.
in vain ...
Your voice powerless to avert the words of war
the raucousness of the moment.
I want words
to KILL the
They appeared at daybreak. In their eyes the earth could be seen opening up and the fire dancing on the dead. They did not look anyone in the face and especially not the child who vanished at their approach. They were silent before innocence because they had devastated it just as they wished. When you raised your finger to the sky they turned their eyes away while clutching their weapons. No one knew where they came from nor where they were going. They would have liked to tuck themselves away in the hollow of the earth but that space was already taken by the dead.
They passed through the village without a backward glance. Oblivion was their only certainty but I am not sure they found it.
Even under the ashes.
Little by little they unlearned the heartbeats of the day.
body scattered in the fog of sights
no more life, they say
Killing as a habit
by the supreme authority
Finally to know
that God does not exist
In the smoky fumes of exile
they sometimes sketched a gesture
towards the other
but the horror that they read
on that face
that is THEIR OWN
So impossible to embrace
the one who was so like them
that brother who is dying
under the blows
that they count mechanically
I would like to strangle you with my bare hands
to prevent you from causing more harm
sighs the soldier free at last
after the daily murders
His weapon lies at his feet
blushing at the crimes
past and to come
it purrs gently
translated from the French by Brian Cole
Jeanne was a forlorn young woman with gentle brown curls.
Large eyes, skin of soft and white.
A soulful creature somewhat lost in appearance, exuding a tenderness.
Strolling the streets aimlessly, nervous and unsure.
Into a shop for soothing’s sake and stopping the need to run.
The shop keeper made banter until Jeanne could escape.
An unsocial girl, she couldn’t stay long.
Back in her safe room with her lost father downstairs, she went to her top drawer and withdrew the object sharp and silver.
Sitting in her flowered chair in Indian style, pausing only a second, she drew the razor tenderly yet surely across her alabaster thigh.
Red drops appeared. Then the other leg for symmetries’ sake.
The sharp pain was quiet, soothing to Jeanne.
Bill Spence had a hard time remembering himself anymore since Sally died.
Missing, so much missing.
He went to her closet when the house was quiet. He stood there inhaling the warm scent of her still remembering clothes.
Letting the softness drape over him, lay on him, be on him,
in the quiet secrecy of the house.
Dressed in Sally.
Muriel wanted Tom.
Tom was different and Muriel was getting different.
Hard to compete with those on the make broads dressed in colorful curls, watery grins and carefully chosen movements in all day planning.
She went to Tom and asked him to come home with her.
“Okay”, he said.
Blanche was 60.
Harsh for a belle.
Colorful paper and strewn about ribbons on a table laid with expectations.
A darkened room, a birthday party.
No children’s laughter.
Blanche’s high held ribs, hollow sound.
A too tight countenance with hair pinned back, school marm glasses.
Too many exposed legs and breasts and booze.
Held together by pins and wires,
he stood in front of her small house.
He knocked softly,
“are you sure?”
Quiet closed the door.
“ Maudie, I’m going to join up now, “said young Tim.
“I’ve made up my mind, I’m goin’.”
Can’t compete with the romance of war and do the right thing sort of baloney.
Tim being a serious sort of boy would take kindly to that romantic stuff.
“Timmy come here one more time.”
She watched him walk down the dusty road, jaunty like.
Beautiful Bruce with his Dick Tracy kind of looks lay in his waiting bed.
His white shock of hair gave him an angelic quality hiding his once powerful physique behind a white sheet and gown.
Precious memories give a kind of translucent glow as he waits the long wait.
Lydia Wants Us to Play Today
The winter hinted at carcasses
rustling under our feet;
snow-blind, we invented new games
in the parlor: Skin the Moose,
Pollyanna Pucker, Shake Antler Fake,
Scat Treason, Rag and Smack-down.
The hearth sparkled
but gave off little heat.
Outside, the sheen
from the frozen river
invited the weakest of us.
St. Christina the Astonishing
St. Christina prays, with head tossed back
And eyes uplifted toward heaven, as she kneels
In the topmost branches of a Birch tree,
Under a sky that I remember from my childhood,
A rare blue egg tempera wash that would hang
Over the near Eastside on June mornings.
In a tree crowded with colorful birds that sing
Sweet songs amid green foliage, perches one
Sepia Saint, a lone pelican far from the sea,
A white feathered symbol of transcendence
And selfless sacrifice escaping the strong smell
Of the sinful by climbing high and far from its reach.
On the ground below, two barefoot priests
In black robes look up, one holds a cord to bind her,
The other, a ladder to snatch her, twisting and kicking
Against their grasp, like a bird pulled from its perch,
Out of the rare blue air and egg tempera sky,
Out of all the June mornings of my childhood.
The painting St. Christina the Astonishing is used with the permission of the artist Cynthia Large – All Rights Reserved (http://www.cynthialarge.com/)
St. John of the Ladder
St. John says that understanding
Is a deliberate lifting up of one’s self
And comes by slow and steady effort,
As if you are climbing a tall ladder
Ring by rung, hand over hand and
Step by step, where ascent is a
Vertical exercise of beating down vice
And stepping on them, one by one,
To raise yourself up.
In his cell, a lone penitent kneels
Head bowed deep in prayer,
As virtues move beneath his garment
And fly like white and tan pigeons,
A rapid flurry of wings flapping
Against the fabric of his hair shirt
As they escape, one by one,
To the window ledge and out
To the open air.
For me, insight comes all at once
Like a multi-vehicle crash on the interstate
Where cars pile up on each other,
One by one, at high speed
To the bang of metal on metal,
The boom of exploding airbags,
As red brake lights silently pulse
On and off bleeding out all my wrong
And mistaken notions.
I prefer the more modern methods of
Spiritual awakening in a midnight vigil
With cars lined up, one by one,
Awaiting neon lit enlightenment
Dispensed at the all night drive through
Of a fast food retail outlet and when the
Speaker crackles, I lean my head out
Of the car window and pray: “Please
Forgive me, for I have sinned…”
The Ladder of Divine Ascent or The Ladder of Paradise. A 12th-century icon described by John Climacus. Monastery of St Catherine, Mount Sinai.
Soliloquy of Saint Simeon Stylites the Younger
(Or St. Simeon of the Admirable Mountain)
My hermitage is a tall pillar
Standing upon a high mountain,
Elevated in living benediction, alone
And solitary, among the highest places.
Escaping worldly temptation in my solitude,
Floating somewhere between earth and sky,
Tree and cloud, mountain and plain,
I stand as a witness for my God.
When the sun blinds my eyes
And burns my flesh, when the wind
Whips and the rain lashes I am most
Close to the pure happiness of heaven,
And I pray: take me, let lightning strike me
In a storm and throw me down
In flames to death and raise me up
To New Life and The Communion of Saints.
Looking down, the world is so beautiful
At a distance and the silence sings to my soul;
In the evening when the warm breeze blows
From the East, it is the whispering of God.
When the Evil one turns stones to loaves,
Serpents to fish and scorpions to eggs, I close my
Eyes and turn my head away, and Angels
With blue faces minister to me.
And when He tempts me with a human touch,
The sound of a woman’s laughter, the warmth
Of breasts and the softness of her belly,
I shout my prayer of mortification of flesh.
The Prophets come to comfort me and
Converse with me as a gentle rain
Washes me clean and the wind dries me,
As the top of my column becomes a tabernacle.
I have Holy Visions of the Lord
Who teaches and instructs me and
Gives me Holy Messages for the people
Who come to this place to pray with me.
He says that everyone who is isolated
From their neighbor sits on a high pillar,
And all who are angry with their brother
Stand solitary and alone on a high column.
The Hagiography of a Flamingo Hopping on One Foot
They say that St. Christina the Astonishing rose up after the Agnus Dei at her funeral Mass, levitated above her coffin and flew like a bird to perch on the highest rafters of the church, then descended to the altar, and told an amazing tale that she had visited heaven, hell and purgatory.
She met many family and friends in purgatory and hell, but unfortunately saw no one that she knew in heaven except God Himself, and after this amazing day, she fled the company of people, complaining that she could smell their sins and it was a powerful stench.
She would climb tall trees and sit in their top most branches with the birds. She would stay in a tree, looking up to heaven and praying for so long she would forget to eat. Christina was known on occasion to cast herself into fires and throw herself in open ovens, emerging unharmed and with no burns.
Cristina the Astonishing would also jump into the frozen river, remaining there for long periods of time as she prayed. Less fantastic, but certainly no less wondrous, eyewitness accounts describe that she prayed while doing cartwheels and while her body was curled up in a tight a ball.
It has been documented by multiple sources, reliable religious and well regarded lay contemporaries, that on one particular occasion she was seen hopping about on one foot and crying out to God in a loud and powerful voice: “Look upon me, O Lord, for I am like unto a flamingo.”
Saint Christina is by far the most magical bag lady in the communion of saints, and the most astonishing and unbelievable wonder she performed was this miraculous transformation into a flamingo as she hopped about on a single leg, an act in my mind that is singularly worthy of sainthood.
Santa María de la Cabeza
The head of Maria Torribia
Is kept in a silver reliquary
And in times of extreme drought
It is brought out for procession
Through the streets of Madrid.
In a wooden tabernacle
Carved with the faces of
Infant Angels and decorated
With silk ribbons, streamers
Of purple, green and blue.
The head is held high,
Carried by the tallest man
In the parish and followed
By a long line of priests
In black vestments.
Saint Mary lost her child
An event that shook her faith,
Shaped her Sainthood, and made
Her a humble hermit
Praying on a hillside.
When the storm clouds gather
In late August and the rain falls
So heavy it obscures the landscape,
It is simply a Saint remembering
A life unlived.