I drop a coin in the iron box, light
a white taper, soften the base against
another tall prayer & plant it in the wax forest
that melts under orange-yellow orbs
in the narthex of San Luigi dei Francesi.
I wonder what the difference will be,
or if the coin would have been better spent
tossed to the gypsy who begs per favore,
signora, che Dio ti benedica
on slick grey stone in January rain.
She holds a rosary in one hand, lies
prostrate, face buried in layers of scarf
where pilgrims pass through wooden doors.
The theater of repose draws no one.
I pray & only half believe the words
that move from consciousness down arms, out
fingers, to the shoes of faithful strangers.
The Inspiration of St. Matthew hangs
across the lofty nave, organ humming
soft to stone angels and gold fleur-de-lys.
Caravaggio must have prayed eyes open,
that vulgar spirit who bought a whore for
his model virgin. Do prayers work this way,
when heads go unbowed. Will daydreams hinder
atonement. Each supplicant signs the cross,
dots chest & forehead in acqua santa,
leaves transgressions at the feet of saints.
To Virginia With Love
George & Virginia dance to Ricky Nelson –
a Route 66 diner, orange-glow juke in the corner.
Cokes & fried chicken sit crisp
on a red-checkered tabletop slick with sweat rings.
Avon scent on her pink spring dress
a faint saccharine mist
through smoke-incensed air as she twists
into his arms and unfurls again,
black marks crayoned
from wide heel to tile floor
with each new dip & spin. Wind kicks
up her skirt, through the open door whose bell
clinks as thick Tulsa air ghosts through.
Gorged green-blue thunderheads sit thick
as two scissortails float by, drop & lift,
wings pushed back as swimmers in water.
Record clicks to Santo & Johnny, George
slips a small card into Virginia’s warm hand –
a freckle-faced boy presenting a heart in his arms,
Be Mine glittered gold on soft cream paper;
To Virginia with Love –
Forever Yours, George
scrolled in thin black ink.
They unwind each other to be wound back,
together. They spin in a daze to Hank Williams.
About the author:
Sarah Warren is a writer, musician, and professor. She has taught literature and writing classes and also given music lessons since 2003, and continues to gig around as a flutist and vocalist whenever possible. Sarah is currently working toward a Ph.D. in English at the University of North Texas in Denton, and though she has lived in Texas since 2006, she will always identify as a native Oklahoman. Sarah currently teaches English composition at the University of North Texas in Denton and at Richland College in Dallas.