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The slashed body
Hanging from a branch,
A harness of blood
Streaming over the shoulders….

From a gash on one leg
A gemmed rosary of a rivulet
Slides down his calf and over his foot
To drip between his toes.

The miracle is that it stops mid-air
And swings lightly in the breeze.
Then the sun takes it
And begins to sew his wounds closed,
The sutures of blood cleansing his body
Until he hangs a shining death for
The ignorant to believe.

This isn’t
Just a story. This isn’t just
A reliquary for bones that no one found.
If in the beginning was the Word, you make
Your prayer beads out of syllables,
Out of prayers themselves.

They shaved his head.
They had long knives
And rope, a sharpened walking staff,
A hoe,
And whatever else
Their hate could find.

The saint is dead,
And I can only speak in martyred words.
I can only speak to bless.

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The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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