for St. Rose of Lima
I know how to make fire.
It is not I who makes it; I am the kindling. A
cut here, a jab there: and the flame starts,
unbidden. In one little corner of Lima,
an Everlasting fire blazes on.
The unseen Torch lights me ablaze,
night after night. Piles of broken glass, pepper seeds,
busted frames of clay pots, thorns like needled teeth, and
hard-backed stones. Baptism by lye, incantation of vision.
The Indians around the mountains beyond this city
speak of dreams: I am caught midstream and inundated
in one of Our Lord.
Burnt hands offer sacrifices
to the Blessed, the poor,
the empty jars in search of Living Water. Burnt words
from burnt lips comfort their hearts stuffed and split open
by want, by pestilence, by tears, by pain. A burnt forehead
bears a thorn crown, a spiked metal crown; but still,
much lighter than a rough and ragged Shoulder
bearing a cross. Perhaps I pray
for the crown to be set ablaze,
each tip speaking Scripture with a point of flame? It is in
the Blessed Sacrament I seek the fuel, the sparks.
Yet, I am nothing
but kindling. As I said, I do not
start the fire. Our Lord Jesus
bears the Torch, and I am nothing but
willing wood. I have sacrificed my hair
to divest myself of weight to burn higher and stronger, and
wear roses on top of the thorns so you see the flame
and not the pain. By day, the needle whispers and speaks
to build prayers out of lace. But by night,
out of the sight of your light, I always burn. And I will burn
until I am spent.
Written 3/31/11 and 4/1/11
© 2011 Nicole Nicholson. All Rights Reserved.
Welcome to NaPoWriMo, otherwise known as National Poetry Month! To kick off my effort to write 30 poems in 30 days, I wrote for the latest We Write Poems Prompt, which challenged us to write about the art of making fire. (I have to admit, I cheated a little, since I wrote part of the poem yesterday.)
I went more metaphorical with this, since St. Rose of Lima has been on my mind lately. You can also read about her here and the above painting and its story can be found here. I am not Catholic, but I have been fascinated with some of the Catholic Church’s saints because I work in a Catholic institution and by my work and partially osmosis, I have been coming across these individuals and learning about them. St. Rose of Lima fascinates me because of a) the accounts of her spiritual ecstasy, and b) the way she chose to live her life was totally in opposition of what was expected of her, which was to display her beauty (the accounts of her say that she was exceptionally beautiful) and to get married (her parents’ wishes).
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the poem. Not all of what I write for NaPoWriMo will be public; some items will be password protected. Please leave comments or contact me via the About the Poet page if you would like the password.