Italian, Belgium, about 1470 – 1480
In common time, the light reflected
On the babe’s marble head—star-blurred red.
A carnival of the carnal, the rose-blood bloomed
As his tiny body tumbled outside the city
Along with the mother’s severed head.
Martyr of the child dead,
He sits, a baby torso with an old man’s head.
Eyes turned upward, heavenward,
Gripping the palm branch, like the lollipop
My daughter, same age as the saint, requests
Soon as we’re safe inside our home.
I am transfixed by the boy rising
Out of the boiling tub, having met his executioner,
Having refused, a child’s natural willfulness,
To worship the idols the king.
Surrounding him, royal portraits on the walls
Sing a circumscribing hymn—beseeching
The residue of sanctity he left behind,
Odor of holy water, oil and incense.
I break out of my maudlin mood
To recognize Cyricus, child-saint,
Martyr for the youth who will not acquiesce
To the horrible powers of adulthood,
Who, in his innocence, preserved Christ’s crown.
Oh impenetrable being carved in stone!
I give myself to you, not to my child alone.