Saint Sebastian

for Joe Saccio

Blood feeds on red marrow to surge and rip

through bone and be the fuel our bark sails on,

bodies of water and their memories

come to land heavy laden with awareness

of pure being only in this skin.

Arrows writhe too and twist plucked

from their quiver to pierce flesh and bone

as though coming home.

The heart strains and comes to a stop

chasing its beat while those left behind

witness catastrophe transfixed

across time, generations, fathers and sons.

To say accident is not all is to be chased outdoors

to find bone in a gash of tree trunk

wasting on a lawn, bark scaling off

its tender beeswaxed skin you might think

pulled from you where you stand.

It is to seek blood’s coursing in red dyed

wooden wands bursting from a factory trash can,

pink seashells’ spiral whorls, the dream

blood ends in, left over from a garage sale

and a strap for hanging Saint Sebastian by

in a length of leather drooped over a box

outside a shoe repair shop.

A thousand arrows have spilled in wonder

above my head these past two years

yet looking up this morning I saw that I,

yellow marrow fattening for the plunge,

have been carried on the shoulder of one

who shed his martyrdom with his skin.

Invisible wanderer, he bequeaths the life

he fought to keep, inviting me to bear the blood

that bears me on to what I belong to only.

Published in the 2011-09-09 issue: 
Tags

Michael Rowe is a sociologist in the Yale Department of Psychiatry. His books include The Book of Jesse: A Story of Youth, Illness, and Medicine and Classics of Community Psychiatry.

Please email comments to [email protected] and join the conversation on our Facebook page.

Must Reads

Culture
Books