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?