The Saints

You see them praying, sometimes headless,
or wearing their hearts, flaming.
Often in groups, cluttering the landscape
with attributes, framed in the glow

of haloed light. They offer gaping wounds
as they float with the angels, silent,
apocryphal. Their benign patrons pose
beside them, tourists in the divine.

They suffer beautifully — Lawrence,
roasted, Ignatius, devoured whole,
Ursula, massacred with her virgins,
Peter Martyr, writing Credo

in his last drop of blood. Vermilion,
cardinal, crimson, it sputters on the canvas,
the holy ghost fluttering above —
but their eyes are fixed on you,

the future; you can barely hold their gaze.
A shop girl has the face of Catherine,
she pales as she hands you change,
and the man beside you on the bus,

wise behind his beard, is the Matthew
from your tattered children’s Bible,
his lips moving soundlessly — as a siren
parts the traffic, then grows faint.