My Cousin and I Talk Saints

Emilia says

I’ve lost my faith

and I should bury a statue

of St. Joseph

in the garden.

I say, no, I believe in saints,

but only the unburied kind.

So she drags us

through the heaven tour:

a choir like ten thousand

Beyonces and St. Michael’s

scintillating armor,

his archangel feathers

broad as fiddlehead ferns,

white as Ivory Soap.

And those

wings, she says,

they cast no shadow.

So I explain I like my saints

like Deirdre

mopping other people’s floors,

or her autistic son

who loves Pokemon,

and his mother

and also red jujubes. Like

Sister Laura—a face they’d have

hanged her for in Salem—

telling the junior girls: beware

sexting, the boy with his hand

on your bra strap,

and the listening girls

all hopeful, aroused.

And Dave, radiated scrawny,

who’s called his wife

you crazy bitch

since his last treatment

and now sets coffee at her elbow

so he won’t

have to say he’s sorry.

Saints

distracted from Heaven

by bad knees and Red Bull

and too much

Game of Thrones. Like you,

Emilia, like

you, trying to save

my recalcitrant soul

while Sister Laura and Ivory Soap,

that boy’s hand on my breast,

jujubes and fiddlehead ferns—

all of it and both of us—

tumble into the patient dirt

not far from where I buried St. Joseph—

Plaster of Paris,

nearly eternal.

 

Gail C. DiMaggio