A Calculus of Sainthood

Before beginning the day’s classes
we knelt on our chairs facing backwards
and recited a litany of prayer to the saint of the day.

Then Sister read from Butler’s Lives
the life and death of that day’s saint––
burned at the stake: Joan of Arc;

drawn and quartered: Edmund Campion;
overcome by arrows: Saint Sebastian,
swooning and slumped on a pole.

Captivated by methods of deaths dealt
we recoiled and marveled, recalibrating
the value of being a martyr, of being a saint.

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