Yes, classes resume at the university tomorrow. I have a midterm to administer and essays to return. Yes, I could have done all this preparation earlier, but I didn't. So now, I'm kinda screwed. But that's okay. I will do my best.
Four years ago on this day, a little drama called a papal conclave was unfolding in the Vatican. Black smoke and white smoke. Red caps and white robes. Lots of incense. That's what today's episode of Classic Saint Marty is all about . . .
March 12, 2013: Black Smoke
Yes, black smoke is billowing over the Sistine Chapel, indicating that there will be no band concert at my daughter's middle school tonight. Sources close to the Vatican had been anticipating this musical event all evening. Alas, shortly before 4 p.m., the dark plumes appeared above the conclave building, dashing all hopes.
The dark smoke also indicates that I will sequestered at the university for the next couple of hours, doing my obligatory time in my office. While the Italian press had speculated I may skip this part of my professorial duties, I will not alter my daily schedule during the conclave. I sit by my phone, awaiting the call from Rome.
The dinner menu for the conclave cardinals is unknown. I will be dining on potatoes and ham tonight. Later, I will walk to the fountain down the hall for a cup of water. Papal elections are thirsty business. So are office hours.
While the smoke blowing is done for the night, I will continue to pray and pack my bags.
Saint Marty must be ready to head to St. Peter's Square at the drop of a hat. Or pick up his daughter in about an hour.
|What do the cardinals mean by this?|
And a poem I wrote a while ago, before the teenage years:
In Praise of Daughters
by: Martin Achatz
Zeus gave birth to Athena himself, from a pain in his deathless temples, ten thousand Greeks pounding the walls of Troy. She charged from his skull, full grown and armored, wailed a war cry louder than the cries of all the mothers who've lost sons in battle. A sound that shook the dust of Olympus. Zeus heard her, saw the bronze on her breasts, watched her flight, up and up, and knew his creation was good, the way Elohim knew light and dark, heaven and earth, sea and mud, man and woman were good on day six.
I saw my daughter charge into the world on a morning of wind and ice. Heard her first sound, a call to battle. For oxygen and milk. Her frog body, slick and red, mapped the contours of my heart, its empty ventricles and auricles. Flooded them. The way the sea flooded the Titanic that April night. I foundered, split, capsized, went under. Swallowed whole by an ocean of daughter. Now, almost eleven years later, I watch her this autumn day. She stands in a cyclone of gold and red. The leaves spin, rise around her, catch her hands and feet and hair, carry her up and up. To the clouds. To the moons. Up and up. To the constellations. Up and up. Cassiopeia. Andromeda. Up and up. Cygnus. Scutum. And up. Virgo. And up. To the arms of Zeus. Of Elohim. Up. Where she sings, dances like an owl-eyed goddess.