In a wooden cottage
on a distant mountain
at the point where the world rolls
into the unknown,

a mongrel sprawls by the fire
and a dour girl, humming,
mends her brown stocking.
A woman, neglecting her kettle,

must go to the window to listen–
as if straining to hear her own heart–
for the faintest rustle of the saints’
drapery, lifeblood staining drop by drop

an otherwise ordinary earth.
She believes she can almost
see this scene–luminous blue, gold, red glowing
as far as the field’s rough edge.

Her husband whispers her name
from his workbench,
sawdust in his beard
and three teeth missing.

Once, in secret, he journeyed miles
to the city’s shining gates
to beg forgiveness
for he knew not what.

He could never bear to tell her
it was just the beautiful people of the valley
reenacting the Crucifixion yet again.
He understands. He is hungry, too.

Susan Cronin