Scoundrel Time

Murillo’s Saint Catherine, c. 1650

–Hospital de los Venerables, Sevilla

She stares with a bearing – experience
having brought her soul this far –

and lifts a frond, one kind
of sword, in one hand, effortless.

In the other, clutched to her,
the silver plated sword

of her own beheading. A delicate
crown perches at the back

of that head, jaunty as a hair pin,
but in her face is her ferocity.

This piety is no matter
of two eyes to heaven,

as with one eye she gazes past us
towards her future harrowing

with a steady stare that stops
our breathing in this darkened

room built for dying clerics.
We have nothing to tell her.