The Dream of St. Francis
Scott Owens

It started with the hungry look of stars,
wind a trembling lip, earth
a field of mouths closing on air.
For all I gave I thought that God
would show me the way, give me the means
to make my life a sacrifice.
He gave me nothing but pierced hands,
a dream of the world in need.
All I had left was myself.
I gave my hands to doves, shadow wings
incapable of flight.
I gave my arms to the craving
of thorns, feet to blistering sand,
ankles to holes in the ground,
knees to trees crouched in water.
A pair of crows carried my eyes away.
Wrens made nests of my hair.
I gave my tongue to the bleating of sheep,
my ears to bats.  A possum wore my scalp
like a helmet.  Rats  settled in the back
of my skull.  I left the skin of my arms
for snakes to inhabit, the rest for deer,
rabbits, raccoons, worms.
The smallest insects drank from the cup of my heart.
Reaching the pond I lay down beside it,
satisfied, unafraid, waiting
for what remained to turn to dust
and ash, for rain to empty this prison
of skin, feed the earth’s menu of roots,
castings, runoff to another day.

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