Hagiography and HangingTimothy Bradford
My colleague checks himself in a crescent of broken mirror before class when he wants to look good berating our inescapable Puritan heritage. I don’t know how he broke the mirror and believe in no destiny. If you study hagiography, you’ll see miracles trump hard work. St. Anselm spoke with the birds, St. Jerome juggled flaming roses, no ash, St. Theresa made it with G, bathed in ecstasy. Of course, other towns converted whole-cloth to sainthood just by the fungus on the wheat —ergot. Whole villages shared brain’s fire and shutter. So what’s up with Salem? A tear in the sack-cloth of too much sense to let some dark light in—? and then, nothing, just sales. Today, the city’s products include cables, flashbulbs, games, lamps, plastics, radio tubes, tannery and leather products, and valves. “Note: We didn’t burn them, we hanged them.” Nineteen persons to be exact. It seems easier on my mind with fire, knife of flame on their shins, bellies, breasts. The body devoured, the myth of the phoenix. “You know what Cocteau says?” my friend asks non-rhetorically. “Don’t look in a mirror to see yourself, look at your life.” Or our lies, I think. Like I is not another, is different than we. Or belief in some sanctity of fire over a cold, gray rope, tight on a woman’s throat, choking out herbal folk remedies, unpatentable shadow language grounded in the absolute symbolism of flowers and roots, bowing to no god. Better we regarded, too, our fragments, instead of manufacturing new mirrors. Better we understood our logic of rope, fantasy of fire.
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