Lives of the Seraphim – a poem by Nancy Christopherson

Lives of the Seraphim

In Russian Orthodox churches the icons
are sacred. The faithful take candles
and light them to pray for themselves
in their only good clothes. The women
in scarves and heavy woolen coats,
the men with their hats in their hands.
The saints in their beautiful rich robes,
the priests in their flowing white raiments
with sacraments, swinging their incense.
Brass and dim light. Outside, at the top
of the steps leading in, someone trades
icons of saints the size of small coins for
a kopek, each one unique. String them
around your neck later or give them as
tokens to friends and family. The seraphim
will follow you out when you can’t
see them, their silks and their banners
flowing in daytime, their eyes squinting
from too much sunlight. You may
see one or two tears slipping down. They mean
you well and perch in the trees and on
rooftops, cling to bus rails as the cars
honk past. No one will notice, but in these
rounds where the blue smoke
of exhaust makes them cough at times,
they are blameless. Back inside they made
you feel blessed and you could do
something equally marvelous like call
out a miracle. Have the bus miss the car
as it misses the pedestrian as she
dodges the traffic between six unmarked
lanes with her purse slung over her left
shoulder and her sturdy shoes dancing. Just lift
her straight up to heaven like that. You
could do it if you wanted.


Nancy Christopherson‘s poems have appeared in Helen Literary Magazine, Peregrine Journal, Raven Chronicles, Third Wednesday, Verseveavers and Xanadu, among others, as well as various regional anthologies. Author of The Leaf, she lives and writes in eastern Oregon. Visit

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