Saint Clare of Assisi: At the Beginning of My New Life
I first saw Francis preaching in San Giorgio.
Most people, even my pious mother,
thought he was mad, perhaps from the hard year
in prison during the war—the stone bed, stale crust of each day—
and the illness that followed. Oh, and all that followed—
He was beautiful when the Gospel tenderly set its talons
upon him. When he spoke I saw tears drop onto his tunic,
small moons of grief and bliss—that he had only this
thin body to offer, this frail and furious life.
But it was a kind of singing, the words of Christ
rising out of his throat, and I felt wings
of a giant bird or angel beat in my breast.
I was so afraid the joy would tear my soul
from my body, I could only beg our Lord
for time to be His servant here first.
I said no to the world that day and yes
to the world inside and yes
to the promised one, beyond.
Lisa Zimmerman’s poetry has appeared in Florida Review, Poet Lore, Colorado Review, Cave Wall, SWWIM Every Day and other journals. Her first book won the Violet Reed Haas Poetry Award. Among other collections are The Light at the Edge of Everything and The Hours I Keep. She’s a four-time Pushcart nominee.
I didn’t know the Gospel had talons. Makes sense. This is an exceedingly lovely poem.