Al Ortolani, Stigmata
Each morning you will rise
before the sun. It will fling
its rays over the horizon like ropes
and you will be expected
to climb them. Each day
you will be understood less.
How can it be otherwise―
touched as you are. In preparation
you will not sleep. Black bread
holds you like a stone. Soup itself
is a sandbag. Each night
you will wait through the hours
for the first movement of the sun
as it grinds upwards. Even those
who tell your story will be
suspect—each revision an attempt
to get the story. You will be
watched like a magician
with a deck of cards—show us
how you pulled the ace—local
television will have a chopper
ready to broadcast
whatever happens next. Let us
give this up, Leo says. The woods
are complete with miracles.
Author’s Comment: My poems in this issue of The Wild Goose Poetry Review are part of a larger work and are “after” The Little Flowers of St. Francis. They were written, misinterpretations included, after a humble digestion of the Saint’s life. Little relevance is given to time or place. Francis, Clare, Leo, Juniper and the early Brothers are in a sense timeless. The poems mix the images of the 13th century with that of the 21st.
Bio: Al Ortolani is beginning his fortieth year as a secondary English teacher. He has written four books of poetry and has published widely in periodicals such as Prairie Schooner, New Letters, The Midwest Quarterly, and The New York Quarterly. He is currently editor with the Little Balkans Press and is on the Board of Directors of the Kansas City Writers Place.