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Thursday, June 11, 2020


by David Southward

"St. George" by Salvador Dalí (1971)

Four nights in a row, the motorcade
of believers rolls past my house,
ignoring the mayor’s curfew. Bullhorns
blaring, they ride on the roofs
of moving sedans, brandishing signs
to remind a republic of the dying words
of George Floyd: I can’t breathe!

I think about history’s martyrs—
those saints of the early church
swallowed by Rome’s imperial machine,
who couldn’t possibly have known
how they would be transformed
by common love and fury
into heroes and miracle-workers.

Take Saint George. Once
a nobody—a lowly foot soldier
in Rome’s legions—he died clinging
to his faith in a better world. Today
he gleams from Europe’s stained-glass
windows, resplendent in his armor
as he stands on a dragon’s hide.

David Southward teaches in the Honors College at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He is the author of Apocrypha (Wipf & Stock 2018) and Bachelor’s Buttons (Kelsay Books 2020).