The Feast of Saint Francis

The cattle lower their heads as they enter
the chapel. Even the lowly will be anointed.
Because Francis too had his time in the wilderness,
lost in the mountains outside Assisi. He was
drunk for months. Coming down from the hillside
he kissed a man out of pity and through this grace
became sainted. I’m missing part of the story—
the kiss was likely a test—but I’m not religious,
and only for a moment have I understood
sublimity, walking through Central Park
the morning after I met her. I had to go to
the dentist. But I paused for the horses, beautiful
and humiliated. Cardinal in my rib cage.
Red plumage everywhere, a thin silver ringing.
I can’t get that cleanness back, but look:
I am trying to remember animals. To believe
in beauty, this strange yearly processional—
the hand of the priest on the back of the camel
and the dead rat outside the cathedral.
The sick man at the foot of the mountain,
waiting for anyone to come down.

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