Francesco and Clare
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!
From Study for the World's Body, published by HarperCollins, 1994. Copyright © 1991 by David St. John. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
David St. John
David St. John is the author of over ten collections of poetry, including Study for the World's Body: New and Selected Poems (Perennial, 1994), which was a finalist for the National Book Award. He currently serves on the Board of Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets.
Date Published: 1991-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/francesco-and-clare