Francesco and Clare

David St. John

 
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.

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It was in the old days,


Further Reading

Poems for Anniversaries
A Man Meets a Woman in the Street
by Randall Jarrell
Couple Sharing a Peach
by Molly Peacock
Earth Tremors Felt in Missouri
by Mona Van Duyn
I Married You
by Linda Pastan
Let Me Disappear
by Ray Gonzalez
Looking Back in My Eighty-First Year
by Maxine Kumin
Man and Wife
by Robert Lowell
My Wife
by Robert Louis Stevenson
Orpheus
by Robert Kelly
The Anniversary
by John Donne
The Anniversary
by Elaine Terranova
The Elephant is Slow to Mate
by D.H. Lawrence
The Storm
by Theodore Roethke
The Sympathies of the Long Married
by Robert Bly
To My Dear and Loving Husband
by Anne Bradstreet