Saints’ Logic

By Linda Gregerson b. 1950 Linda Gregerson
Love the drill, confound the dentist.   
Love the fever that carries me home.   
Meat of exile. Salt of grief.
This much, indifferent

affliction might yield. But how   
when the table is God’s own board   
and grace must be said in company?   
If hatred were honey, as even

the psalmist persuaded himself,   
then Agatha might be holding
her breasts on the plate for reproach.   
The plate is decidedly

ornamental, and who shall say that pity’s   
not, at this remove? Her gown
would be stiff with embroidery whatever   
the shape of the body beneath.

Perhaps in heaven God can’t hide   
his face. So the wounded
are given these gowns to wear
and duties that teach them the leverage

of pain. Agatha listens with special   
regard to the barren, the dry,
to those with tumors where milk   
should be, to those who nurse

for hire. Let me swell,
let me not swell. Remember the child,   
how its fingers go blind as it sucks.   
Bartholomew, flayed, intervenes

for the tanners. Catherine for millers,   
whose wheels are of stone. Sebastian   
protects the arrowsmiths, and John   
the chandlers, because he was boiled

in oil. We borrow our light
where we can, here’s begging the pardon   
of tallow and wick. And if, as we’ve tried   
to extract from the prospect, we’ll each

have a sign to be known by at last—
a knife, a floursack, a hammer, a pot—   
the saints can stay,
the earth won’t entirely have given us up.

Linda Gregerson, “Saints’ Logic” from The Woman Who Died in Her Sleep. Copyright © 1996 by Linda Gregerson. Reprinted with the permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Source: The Woman Who Died in her Sleep (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1996)

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Poet Linda Gregerson b. 1950

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Religion, Christianity

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Linda  Gregerson

Biography

Linda Gregerson is the author of several collections of poetry and literary criticism. A Renaissance scholar, a classically trained actor, and a devotee of the sciences, Gregerson produces lyrical poems informed by her expansive reading that are inquisitive, unflinching, and tender. Tracing the connections she finds between science and poetry, Gregerson says, “I think there are rhythms of thought, fragile propositions about the . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Religion, Christianity

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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