The saint descended
From her carriage to stretch
Her forefinger to a peasant girl
Whose face was covered with sores;
Was it pity confused with love
That burned Catherines breast to pause
So often, the holy ghost a vision
She saw in others of heaven, or hell?
She washed the girls face
In a nearby brook where the leprosy
Rinsed away with water;
Then the wet eyes of her followers
Watched the saints hips
As she swayed
Back to her carriage, lifted her foot
And gathered the hem of her skirt
In her hands the same as any woman.
SEAN THOMAS DOUGHERTY is editor of the New Hampshire literary journal The Red Brick Review. This poem is from a series based on the life of medieval saint Catherine of Siena, known for her compassion, courage, and fine theological mind. The poems, along with the work of Ecuadoran sculptor Larissa Marangoni, make up an exhibit appearing in northeastern U.S. universities.