by Burt Bradley
That first blessing, the pale hand,
the thin fingers wriggling in the wind
before the benediction, talons
like cloven hooves descend,
the beak sharp as a trident,
swift as a forked tongue,
the bite clean through the bone.
The little saint, before falling
in a faint, envisions the Stabat Mater
ascending to the hungry nest
with the holy sacrament.
Far below in the bloody air
a fingerless signing of the Cross.