The Heir | Andrew Coburn
Forced March | Robert Lietz
Dear Leader Dreamer | Gabriel Check
Antipastoral: Dairymen | Amy Groshek
Snapshots of the Epic | Gregory Lawless
Three Reliquaries | Laurence Davies
The Inexorable | Stefanie Freele
Travel Photography | Joshua Walker 
Post-Christmas Inventory | Laura Kolb
Cityscapes, Silos, Blue Nudes | Amber Krieger
Farming Silence | Lauren Ashleigh Kenny
Evan in the Tent | Walter Cummins
Three Poems | Grace Wells

On the Contrary
Archives | Search

Four Saints in Three Reliquaries | Laurence Davies

One More Golden Legend
In the same year as the re-invention of bell-ringing, Saint Reynard, for whom all the Reynards in the world are named, began his mission to the terrified. We celebrate his day on the eve of the eve of the year’s darkest days, December 20 in Latvia, June 20 in Chile. He is the patron of the new-born, the palsied, the benighted, the dying, drivers from out of town, cowards, and heroes cursed with imagination.
	Chronicles in Latvian, Irish, Slovene, Basque, and Araucarian tell us that Reynard was not content to succor human beings, for he was a sleepless as well as a compassionate man. He preached to the mice scuttling and scattering before the rake-clawed cat, he bade the cat spitting at the strong-jawed German shepherd to suffer and be still, he comforted young rabbits quivering yet frozen in the rutted path as coach or cart came lumbering toward them, he ministered to heatstruck pilot whales led by their hunger up strange creeks, he brought the lost sheep home. 
	Among such beasts he gave a name to fear. Though many authorities do not concur, some have called this a mixed blessing.

We  Pray  the Lord  Her  Soul  to Take
In the strict sense, Gloria Pismayo is no saint. Yet millions observe her cult, a word the worldly do not fully understand. Confessor, intercessor, healer, a candidate for martyrdom, miraculously a virgin: if she looks like a saint, acts like a saint, smells like a saint, why should the puny barrier of her death exclude her from the radiant communion?
	No one day is hers, yet every day and every night her faithful put their trust in her.
	Melangell helps the shy, Brigid (who would pour the King of Heaven Himself a lake of beer) cheers the hospitable, while Gloria intercedes for dreamers—at a cautious estimate, nearly all of us. She was not the first to say that life’s a dream, nor even that our dreams are dreams of dreaming, but she is the first to live that doctrine fully.
	Gloria Graciasadios Pismayo, born in the San Patricio Highlands on November 25, 1956 (or the selfsame date in  ‘55 or ‘7), led and leads an exemplary life of poverty, an example we should take to mind and heart. Militants of Las Noches Oscuras ( known also as Los Oscuros, since some of them objected to the las) seized her in 1983 on suspicion of disseminating literacy. That she was alleged to teach the story of Lazarus and Dives, the once-rich man in Hell who begged the once-poor man in Heaven for relief, made her offense on Earth more rank. Wanting to know who else was implicated, the Jefe had her raped and when that failed, he pumped her full of salt and hallucinogens, but though horribly parched she smiled and told him nothing. On the advice of agents from the north, he forthwith had her walled up in a cavern, intending her to die of thirst and nightmare. “Let her dream on,” he said.
	Years passed, Los Oscuros vanished in their homeland’s foggy daybreak, and country people looking for her sainted bones ventured to open up the cave.
	There they found her, asleep in the Lord but still alive, ready for His endless kiss. There, at the end of a tortuous and muddy trail guarded by a constant watch of silent mountaineers, she sleeps on in the odor of undying lilies, living on fresh air and visions. All she needs for proper sainthood are her death and a few score years’ formalities. All we ask is freedom from bad dreams.

And in Their Deaths
Saints Castor and Pollux are identical twins said to be brothers, sisters, or a sister and a brother, androgynous in any case and skilled in healing. Sometimes labelled fictions (heuristic, parabolic, mythical, fantastical, comedic, salvaged from the Greek romances?), they are more frequently regarded as Jews, Muslims, Yazidis, or Zoroastrians who became professed or honorary Christians. Sacred to twins, uncertainty, and convalescence, their altars are two-faced or polyhedral; their devotees sometimes equivocate but do not lie. No one entry in the calendar commemorates this blessed pair, but their popular festivals (observed under Libra or Pisces) honor the supposed dates of their birth (whether caesarian, immaculate, or oviparous), their triumphs in the arena (salving each other’s burns and putting back each other’s severed head), or their translation to the firmament. Some people like an element of blur.  
	Who changed the bandages soggy with blood and pus, who mercifully sliced through sloughing flesh, who cut the afterbirth, who fetched blankets fragrant with rosemary and hyssop, who found the coolest, sweetest water, who smoothed in the balm?  All done through their power, believers say, naming the heavenly twins by turn and jointly, though truly healers and their deeds are legion. Good moves in a mysterious way her wonders to perform.

 read about the author Contributors.htmlshapeimage_3_link_0
commentary | poetry | fiction | chicago | spring 2007   

© 2003-2007 | all rights reserved
Contrary ® is a registered trademark of Contrary Magazine