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Kermes Red

By Melissa Range Poetry

Called crimson, called vermilion—“little worm” in both the Persian and the Latin, red eggs for the carmine dye, the insect’s brood crushed stillborn from her dried body, aswarm in a bath of oak ash lye and alum to form the pigment the Germans called Saint John’s blood— the saint who picked brittle locusts for food,…

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Sun and Stone

By Bruce McAllister Short Story

THE STOCK YOUNG MAN from the north, whose German mother had given him his blond curls and his Milanese father his brown eyes, was at twenty-six the youngest professor of zoology at the University of Pisa. He was driving today to a destination none of his departmental colleagues would have been caught dead at, midweek…

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The Contemplative Life

By Marilyn Nelson Poetry

Abba Jacob said: Contemplation is both the highest act of being human, and humanity’s highest language. If the language of things reaches beyond things to designate the Absolute, the silent interior mantra bespeaks a profound communion with that Someone further than ourselves— and communion within ourselves, for the two go together. When we meditate, we…

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Orpiment

By Melissa Range Poetry

King’s yellow for the king’s hair and halo, mixed if the monastery can’t afford the shell gold or gold leaf to crown the Lord, to work the letters of his name, the Chi-Ro, in trumpet spirals and triquetras, the yellow a cheap and lethal burnishing, the hoard not gold but arsenic and sulfur. The Word…

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Deus Ex Machina

By Win Bassett Poetry

The first afternoon in the monastery brings a brother to tell us to live into our gifts. Study that does not lead to prayer is dishonesty, he tells us. Too much studying is why we’re here. The dying monks chant Vespers, and two oxygen machines fill the silence of full breaths between psalm lines. One…

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