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- Published on Amazon.com
I did a school project on Saint Francis when I was in Junior High, before I started riding the bus to High School with Becky, and my Mom was teaching me at home (hi, Mom, I love you so much!) because the other kids were picking on me a lot and she was on long-term disability and I don’t know how much that had to do with my Dad, who I think was still coming to see her when I was sleeping, and I think that was why I found her one day prostrate and cruciform on the floor in the living room and there were tears on her cheeks and unanswered prayers in her eyes and she reminded me of Saint Francis in the snowbank and for my home school project I drew a picture of Saint Francis there but I gave him long hair like my Mom and I surrounded him with birds, the ones he would preach to, and in my picture they were singing songs even though you couldn’t hear them, just like the songs my heart is singing for my mom, even they she probably can’t hear them either, which, in a way, is like the gospel Saint Francis tells us to proclaim without words or, rather, to proclaim all the time and to only use words when they are absolutely necessary. Saint Francis proclaimed a lot and prayed a lot, too. Sometimes, when I wake up crying at night, I ask him to pray for me. Sometimes, back when she was on long-term disability, it would be my Mom’s crying that woke me up at night and I would pray for Saint Francis to come for us and comfort us and teach us how to forgive and how to be friends with my Dad. I never heard anything back from Saint Francis though. Maybe he thought the words weren’t necessary. Or maybe he came and rubbed my mom’s back and gave her a glass of milk, like she does for me when I wake up crying. I prayed to him because I wanted to know how he made friends with the Wolf of Gubbio because then I thought maybe my Dad would be able to live with us, too, and maybe he could teach me to throw a ball like a man, so that the other kids on the street wouldn’t laugh at me when I played sports with them – it didn’t feel good when they laughed at me, but it hurt more if Becky was there, and it hurt the most if she laughed, too. Maybe, like the Wolf, all my Dad wanted was to eat when he was hungry, but it seems like he was only hungry at night and never hungry to see me or spend time with me, and I don’t know how much of my Mom is left, even though he no longer comes to eat her, and even though she is no longer on long-term disability and spends her days and nights cleaning the floors and desks and toilets and sinks and door handles of rich people. I see how tired she is when she comes home. She sighs a lot when she is heating up our dinner in the microwave and when she sits down beside me on my bed to watch Hello Kitty (Adventures in Wonderland!). I try to focus on the show but sometimes I think about the people who work her like that and I think about my Dad and I think sometimes I want to burn them with fire. Other times, it is myself I want to burn with fire. Or, rather, I want to be utterly changed into fire, like that old monk in the desert talked about long before me and my Mom and my Dad and Becky and the toilets of rich people and Saint Francis and far away from snowbanks and school buses and streets and the tears of my mother and the dreams that scare me and Gubbio and televisions and all of our unanswered prayers. But, maybe even then and maybe even there in the desert, there were still birds and maybe they were still singing songs and maybe that old monk, the one with the fingers that turned into tongues of fire (fingers as tongues, flesh as fire!), maybe he heard them.