Saint Francis and Saint Clare
Double Date with Evita and Thoreau

Susan Blackwell Ramsey

The evening’s going better than you’d think.

       Two beards, two blondes, and now Thoreau performs

his bar trick, reaching into the bin of pencils

       the waiter rolls over for this moment, pulling out

a perfect dozen every time. Applause.

And Clare and Evita one-up each other

       with stories of their corpses. “Incorrupt”

(Clare rolls her eyes) after 600 years,

       demoted to “just the bones,” downgraded again

but! — she raises a finger — still on display!

       Evita tops her with post-embalming stories,

which escalate through kidnapping, attic hideaways,

       counter-kidnapping, standing propped behind

movie screens till kidnapped once again ...

       Clare weeps with laughter. Even Henry smiles.

No excessive reverence for the body here.

The evening didn’t start so well, of course.

       Three Catholics, three ascetics, three celibates,

two saints, one nominee, one Protestant.

       But no one in history ever hated Francis,

who gets Henry talking about animals and plants.

       And really, with allowance for centuries,

Henry and Francis dress a lot alike.

Granted, Henry and Evita don’t click, and she felt

       a little diffident with Clare, given, well ...

But Clare asks with transparent admiration

       about Evita’s projects with the poor

and Francis, with his elbows on the table

       is nodding in recognition as Thoreau

describes pursuing that loon all over Walden

       in his canoe, only to hear it surface

elsewhere, laughing in the starlit dark.

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