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.
Drawing near on the horizon, a host
of those who have gone before. I see
them walking atop the waves as if
on a country road on a fall day.
In a murmur of voices I hear my name
spoken by them who have been
my mother, father, sister, my brother
and friend after friend who hold out
their hands in greeting. As Jesus
did, so now do I walk on the water
to meet them.
I remember you saying that if Jesus showed up
unexpectedly for an afternoon visit, you would
serve him whatever was on the counter––
chicken soup? apple pie? And you were sure
he wouldn’t complain if one of the younger cats
who hadn’t yet learned the social graces
climbed up the side of his white robe, maybe
catching some skin along the way.
Now it’s been years since you left to meet
the guest of your vision, who sipped his soup
and ate his pie, unbothered by the cat who
gained the table and began to share soup
and pie. Jesus rose to give over his seat
while he moved closer to you for coffee
and you to him to share your apple pie.