Clare and Francis

J.B. Toner

For Bernadette

The townsfolk left their houses to behold
Atop the Umbrian hill a shining fire
That wreathed and wrapped the church’s starlit spire
And speared the sky with red and glowing gold.
So, heedless of Assisi’s midnight cold,
They rushed upon the conflagration dire
To quell the ruin of that blazing pyre
Lest God’s own house be razed to ash and coal.
But in the church they found a sacred scene:
Not smoke and flame but two young saints serene,
Who sat and smiled and spoke of Godly love—
And from their forms and faces all pristine
A holy radiance poured forth its beams,
O’erflowed the hills and lit the dark above.

—J.B. Toner