Tag Archives: Catholic

Perpetua in Carthage

I, who found the door of death
with light forever
on the other side.

I, Perpetua in Carthage.

I, martyr to dust.

I, traveler with slaves
to beasts.

I, rejecter of the babe
my father brought
aching for my breast,

asking me:

“Do you see the space
where you will not be?”

I who was silent.

He asked me:
“What can this space be called by?”

I, who answered:
“I cannot be called anything
other than what I am.”

I, who dreamt of the serpent
I, who dreamt of my slave sisters
I, who dreamt of fighting my way
through the dark door into the light.

I, who brought Felicity singing
to the wild heifer.

I, whose collarbone caught
the executioner’s knife.

I, who caught his hand
and drew the knife
through my neck.

I, who would not be denied.

Copyright Kay Winter

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Saint Margaret

That year was the year
I fought my way
out of a dragon.

Let me start:
I grew up banished to strangers
outside Antioch.

When I had to,
I chose purity
over expediency.

That explains the dungeon.

But not the tiny exquisite pain
in my fingertip
nipped by the green devil,
emerald-eyed, ashimmer.

That was my own story.

That year was the year
I let the devil swallow my body
into darkness.

That I gave my own breath
for the dragon’s flame.

That year was the year
that let me
sense light
through the belly.

A year
that faith
made sharp
my cross.

That year was the year
that I fought my way
out of a dragon.

That I sliced
through the
thick skin
severing scales
that fell away
like tossed coins
and crawled out
one toe at a time.

By the time I breathed
my own breath again,
and drew my soul
back in,
the dragon
was split
and wilted
at my feet,
but for the
of white teeth.

– Copyright Kay Winter
written New Year’s Day, 2016

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Benezet at Avignon

I was a boy
who carried a stone
impossible for me
past their disbelieving eyes.

I followed the voices of angels
who had found me
sunblind in the eclipse.

I set the stone
on the bank of the Rhone
at Avignon.

The first stone of the bridge
I built for angels.

The angels,
in all their brilliant
soundings and shinings,
watched my sheep
in the soft light
on the green embankment.

The ill came
after the light
after the angels
after the stones,
and went away whole.

I slept within the arches
singing the silent songs of saints,
for hundreds of years.

Then all my many brothers came
to finish the bridge at Avignon.

And where there were boys
with other stones,
stones too large for them,
sunblind boys like me,
they built bridges.

– Copyright Kay Winter

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Odhran Becomes a Saint

You Irishman, you,
you monk,
you went down heavy-hearted and alive
to your burial
thinking death would be a slow dark drain,
and then a swim through stone
to a judgment of all your small sins.

But the ferryman stilled the boat gently
and you rested, at last you, you rested,
you Irishman, you,
face up,
passing below an invisible bridge
watching clouds, stars, seabirds,
and all your moons
pass over.

And the monster slipped back into the sea,
and the chapel walls went up,
and the faithful settled in
at the strange and ragged shore of Scotland.

When they needed you again, you
came back, talking, always talking,
you Irishman, you,
about how things are not as they suppose,
heaven and hell, not as they suppose.
Columba stuffed your mouth with mud
as if earth could stop the truth of you,
before they put you below again.

Now the Scottish kings are buried
with you, you Irishman you,
you heretic saint.

The ferryman
is paid and waiting for us.
We circle our dim paths here,
waiting for the immortal delight
of new worlds.

Copyright Kay Winter

This poem is based on the story of St. Odhran, my name saint, an abbot who traveled with Columba to establish Christianity in Scotland in the 6th C AD. Something destroyed the chapel walls every night, until a voice told Columba to bury someone alive. Odhran offered and was buried. Columba opened his burial site after a time to see his face, and Odhran, supposed dead, opened his eyes and said, “There is no Hell as you suppose, nor Heaven that people talk about.” At this point, the pious Columba exclaimed: “Uir, Uir, air suil Odhrain! mun labhair e tuille comhraidh” (Earth, earth on Oran’s eyes, lest he further blab.)

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