Hagiography – a poem by Ray Ball


Like Saint Onophrius she kneeled the hair off her legs.
Unlike him she did not live in a hermitage

somewhere close to Constantinople or maybe Cyprus.
Who can remember all their saints except for the nuns?

The evergreens were her cathedral. They
taught morality differently than the stained glass.

She walked through the nearly silent woods.
Sun filtered into shadows by boughs.

Closer to the water now, the babbling of brooks —
singers of praises, readers of the hagiographies of nature.

She thought in fragments of light and sight,
In mystic sherds the shape of trodden leaves.

They had the textures of a thousand kinds of bark
and moss and grasses: All of creation,

but Eden it was not. Only the patterns of a gossamer
web woven from unoriginal sin to make up her habit.


Ray Ball is a writer and history professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage. When not in the classroom or the archives of Europe and Latin America, she enjoys running marathons, reading, and spending time with her spouse Mark and beagle Bailey. Her poems have appeared in journals such as Alaska Women Speak, Foliate Oak, and NatureWriting. She tweets @ProfessorBall

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