“Tomb of St. Francis, Assisi” – Anne Brettell

We watch the friars forgetting if they had
a brother back home, pictures of themselves
fading in distant closets. What else is buried
here, the dark earth just beyond these stones?

I can tell that it is always warm in a tomb.
A crowd is watching the last remnants of a hand
being hollowed black by the chipping paint.

We press this fragment to our foreheads,
let it soak into our thoughts. At the moment
we catch a single arm in the doorway,
it becomes a ball of cotton in our throats.

At last, St. Francis, resting near the small
bones of his birds while the voices
of a choir are playing into our heads.

It still surprises us to find the thick iron bars,
chapels that can lock in the last remains
of a saint – a tooth, a vial of blood. The tiny
pieces of someone we can point to and love.

-Anne is a senior studying English at UTC.

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