Saint Catherine’s Wheel

Michael Schorsch

Catherine wheel.
A device used in the Middle Ages for public
execution named after Saint Catherine who famously
was to be tortured on one. The torturers firmly stretched the limbs
of the victim between the spokes of a wagon wheel and then bound
the limbs about with biting cord and then struck
the limbs with a sledgehammer breaking the bones and then braided
the pulverized limbs around the spokes and then hoisted
the wheel upon a pole and then let
ravens eat the person alive and then lilies
wisteria marigolds irises snap-dragons zinnias
stroked down out of the cloven flaming sky
and an angel with a terrible face unwound her
holy femurs shins tibiae, set the soft wood
of the wheel aflame and Catherine fell to earth
like a fighter jet that plows into a mountain and her skin
bright and deadly and her eyes like broken green
glass stepped through the flowers through cotton through radiant
feathers through cold white campfire ashes through tears
through the agony of her torture and all things soft
stepped and the mud kissed her white feet and she kissed
with a kiss of peace on the left cheeks grey with bristles her torturers
and then walking away from there she left them
with a dreadful choice


  1. TolkienLover says


    May God be praised for giving some men the ability to weave words to such a glorious extent!

    God bless you!

  2. Alix says

    Beautiful. I love how it starts like an article about the wheel and then, suddenly, you’re in the middle of this wild and glorious poem!

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