Reading Chesterton’s St. Francis
Christine Perrin

His apostrophe to the birds as little sisters,
and the winter woods where he’d walk alone
without possessions or weapons to defend them.

When he was going blind, having seen the seraph,
he addressed the red-hot iron
which would cauterize his living eyeball—

Brother fire, be courteous with me.
He made images in the snow and laid down in them,
crying out these would suffice for a wife and family.

On the night that he and Clare broke bread and spoke
of the bread of love, the trees blazed with a flame
that fed on nothing, setting the very air on fire.

He was a child in the dark house of his century,
lifting its doom, the way a child grows up unconscious
of tragedy around him, reckless with thanksgiving.



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