Francesco and Clare, by David St. John


It was there, in that little town
On top of the mountain, they walked,
Francesco and Chiara,
That’s who they were, that’s what
They told themselves–a joke, their joke
About two saints, failed lovers held apart
From the world of flesh, Francis and Clare,
Out walking the old city, two saints,
Sainted ones, holy, held close to the life…
Poverty, the pure life, the one
Life for Franziskus and Klara,
Stalwarts given
To the joys of God in heaven
And on earth, Mother, praising Brother Sun
And sister Moon; twin saints, unified
In their beauty as one, Francisco and Clara,
A beauty said of God’s will and word, bestowed
And polished by poverty, François
With Claire, the chosen poverty, the true
Poverty that would not be their lives…
And they took their favorite names, Clare and Francesco,
Walking the streets of stone the true saints
Walked, watching as the larks swirled
Above the serene towers, the larks
Francesco once described as the color
Of goodness, that is, of the earth, of the dead…
Larks who’d not seek for themselves any extravagant
Plumage, humble and simple, God’s birds
Twirling and twisting up the pillowing air…
And Francesco said to Clare, Oh little plant I love,

My eyes are almost blind with Brother Sun…tell me,

Who hides inside God’s time…?
And Clare, rock of all Poor Clares, stood
In the warm piazza overlooking the valley, weary,
Her shoulder bag sagging from the weight
Of her maps and books, and said across the rain-slick
Asphalt of the parking lot, to the poor bird climbing
The wheel of sky it always had loved best,
Dear lark, dear saint, all my kisses on your nest!

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