Martyrdom Is for the Young

Ursula, shot dead, marched the ten thousand
virgins, just walked them! with the pope in tow
to say she could or to prove maybe that
the purity of youth was worth the shock
of Huns beheading them, each and every
one, as God’s synchronicity seems to
bargain lives away in those old stories,
 
leaving ribs and shoulder blades and femurs
intricately piled like lattice beneath
the church floor and the bishop’s slippers.
How did she reckon her sad pilgrimage
or, at eleven, marriage to a king?
And Sebastian’s painterly wounding—
What of that? His torso lean and slightly
 
twisted in the beautiful agony of
arrows, while behind his abandoned look
skyward he must have been thinking how
had it come to this with his gift for healing
and his luck, now bound by an empire to a tree
as the archers, job done, departed from their
malfeasance back to the voiceless and blind in the
town?
 
And Jesus, of course, we know his knowing or
not knowing, never having been to Rome or seen the
enemies
of the state suspended like sacks on their limbs
snapped by the roadside. Too late!
He could not have been man and not regretted,
wiser as he confronted Pilate at the bloody bowl,
how much good was left to do and how
his angel knew him in the darkness
as awakened, and infinite and finite.
Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

The latest from america

The tête-à-tête between Paul Krugman and Nancy Pelosi in Manhattan was like a documentary about a once-popular rock band. (Rod Morata/Michael Priest Photography)
Speaking in a deep blue stronghold, the Democratic leader of the House calls for “civility” and cautiously hopes that she will again wield the speaker’s gavel in January.
Brandon SanchezOctober 16, 2018
The lecture provoked no hostile reaction from the students who heard it. But a media firestorm erupted.
John J. ConleyOctober 16, 2018
Though the current synod appears to lack the sort of drama and high-stakes debates of the previous two, the role of conscience appears to be a common thread.
Michael J. O’LoughlinOctober 16, 2018
When Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists on the Olympic podium, their act drew widespread criticism. Now Colin Kaepernick is the face of Nike.
Michael McKinleyOctober 16, 2018