It was there, in that little town On top of the mountain, they walked, Francesco and Chiara, That's who they were, that's what They told themselves—a joke, their joke About two saints, failed lovers held apart From the world of flesh, Francis and Clare, Out walking the old city, two saints, Sainted ones, holy, held close to the life... Poverty, the pure life, the one Life for Franziskus and Klara, Stalwarts given To the joys of God in heaven And on earth, Mother, praising Brother Sun And sister Moon; twin saints, unified In their beauty as one, Francisco and Clara, A beauty said of God's will and word, bestowed And polished by poverty, François With Claire, the chosen poverty, the true Poverty that would not be their lives... And they took their favorite names, Clare and Francesco, Walking the streets of stone the true saints Walked, watching as the larks swirled Above the serene towers, the larks Francesco once described as the color Of goodness, that is, of the earth, of the dead... Larks who'd not seek for themselves any extravagant Plumage, humble and simple, God's birds Twirling and twisting up the pillowing air... And Francesco said to Clare, Oh little plant I love, My eyes are almost blind with Brother Sun...tell me, Who hides inside God's time...? And Clare, rock of all Poor Clares, stood In the warm piazza overlooking the valley, weary, Her shoulder bag sagging from the weight Of her maps and books, and said across the rain-slick Asphalt of the parking lot, to the poor bird climbing The wheel of sky it always had loved best, Dear lark, dear saint, all my kisses on your nest!
Vivian St. John (1881-1974) There is a train inside this iris: You think I'm crazy, & like to say boyish & outrageous things. No, there is A train inside this iris. It's a child's finger bearded in black banners. A single window like a child's nail, A darkened porthole lit by the white, angular face Of an old woman, or perhaps the boy beside her in the stuffy, Hot compartment. Her hair is silver, & sweeps Back off her forehead, onto her cold and bruised shoulders. The prairies fail along Chicago. Past the five Lakes. Into the black woods of her New York; & as I bend Close above the iris, I see the train Drive deep into the damp heart of its stem, & the gravel Of the garden path Cracks under my feet as I walk this long corridor Of elms, arched Like the ceiling of a French railway pier where a boy With pale curls holding A fresh iris is waving goodbye to a grandmother, gazing A long time Into the flower, as if he were looking some great Distance, or down an empty garden path & he believes a man Is walking toward him, working Dull shears in one hand; & now believe me: The train Is gone. The old woman is dead, & the boy. The iris curls, On its stalk, in the shade Of those elms: Where something like the icy & bitter fragrance In the wake of a woman who's just swept past you on her way Home & you remain.