I have always loved stories of saints and ecstatic visions. Saint Francis of Assisi seeing an angel and receiving the stigmata. Saint Teresa of Avila being pierced by a seraph's golden lance. People levitating, entering altered states of consciousness.
For a while, I thought I would want to experience this kind of ecstatic vision. But these visions usually are accompanied by a lot of responsibility. Heavenly directions to minister to lepers. Things like that. And pain. Usually, the visions entail some kind of pain, and I'm not really down with suffering.
There's a part of writing poems that's a little visionary, I think. Every good poem has a moment that approaches ecstasy. I sometimes call it the "breathless" moment, when I'm reading a poem and it just sucks the oxygen right out of my lungs. That's when I know that a poem is really working.
Saint Marty will get his ecstasy from poetry and leave suffering to saints and martyrs.
The Vision of Madame Brignac
by: Beverly Matherne
Mme. Brignac stirred white flour into cooking oil for andouille gumbo. She prepared the dish only once a month. Sausage cost more than she had. She though of her dead husband, Emile, glanced at his burial crucifix above her door. She used to make gumbo every Sunday, in honor of him.
The roux was becoming the color of chocolate when Mme. Brignac heard leaves rustle and twigs snap on the path to the door of her shack. She rested her cooking spoon in a saucer and slid her pot onto the back burner of her stove.
She looked out the window and saw, walking toward her, a young mother holding her little boy by the hand. The two, barefoot, wore clothes made of flour sacks. When they saw Madame Brignac at her window, they raised their open palms for bread. Mme. Brignac reached for the latch of her door. At once, blinding light flooded its frame and filled the room. The two beggars appeared before her. The mother smiled. Blood flowed from her son's hands.
"Who hurt him?" asked Mme. Brignac. "Is your pain bad?" she asked the boy. The boy didn't answer. The scent of jasmine rose from his wounds.
Rain fell on her tin roof. Mme. Brignac heard a strange sound, the rhythm of gourds. She glanced toward the sound, at the foot of the mother, into the red throat of a rattlesnake. Mme, Brignac wanted to warn her, but the mother stood motionless.
She shone like ginger lilies, like the moon, like Emile's crucifix at dawn.