Susan Blackwell Ramsey

Kalamazoo Thinks about Assisi

Looking at pictures, she thinks about Assisi. She doesn't know Italian, knows her Spanish won't pass. Doesn't know about Saint Francis except birds, wolf, stigmata, poverty. Even less about Saint Clare -- her hair, that's it. She'll look stuff up before she goes. Looking out the window at the snow she tries to imagine heat, rose brick, a town where it's normal for everybody to drink wine. She wonders if a person who's bad here feels less bad than a villain whose hometown is one big shrine to goodness. What's it like to be in seventh grade, buy bread, ride a bike where tourists are common as starlings here? What's it like to be a pickpocket there, a cop? Would even a good person feel like a candle lost in a cornfield at noon on the Fourth of July?