after Donatello’s image of the aging saint
And here she is, perhaps, in some place
where there’s a place for one like her—
some landscape like far West Texas
in early spring, where she wanders out
on another rare morning, entering
the red cliffs rising above the narrow
bend of river, entering those limits
and this light. The sky’s a vast surge
of blue around her. The flash
of a painted bunting on its own long path.
The whole desert world as clear in its
insistence as the sea. And as pure.
A kingdom here and now.
One by one, those who had known Him
left the world, but it is her gift
to be here still—
not haggard, as some have said Donatello
made her. But aging, yes—
her face marked by weather and by time.
And not penitent, either. No, not that.
What had she done wrong?
That’s a story others chose to tell.
Afternoons, I see her in a little shop,
some odd space on the dusty town’s
main street. A jumble of paintings and pots.
Old clothes. Anything that has caught her eye.
Old photos of children whose names have all
been lost. You open the door to angled
shadows, sharp scent of sage and pine.
Her feet are bare. Her wild, white hair.
She rolls up her sleeve so you can see
what’s inked along her arm:
Speak the truth with those who search for it.
There surely must be days when she misses them,
the others who knew Him, too—
though loneliness can feel like home.
Is it longing that leads her on?
After all, she was the first to witness it:
a morning shimmering and windless,
and the way the light carved out an emptiness
in the stone, space hollowed by His leaving.
That absence a presence that is with her still.
The way those first days surprised them all.
The way it might have ended but did not.