Famous/Infamous
ST. ANTHONY PREACHING TO THE FISH

You or I would feel silly,
                    but he
          had the Will of God behind him.

He leaned over the waves and spoke.
                    Their little mouths
          opening, shutting,

agitating the surface of the water
                    the way raindrops
          make the water jump up

to meet the other water descending:
                    perhaps they thought
          they would be fed physical,

rather than spiritual food.
                    Any night of the summer
          go to the Feire Popular:

families gather around heaping
                    plates
          of whole sardinhas, eyes glazed

(both: eater and eaten). Charred
                    flesh, soft
          and white inside, is feathered

between three hundred tiny bones.
                    Descend the stairs
          of the former palace

off the Praça do Comercio.
                    Three hundred fish
          feed there, packed so closely

they support each other on all sides,
                    pocking the surface
          of the Rio Tejo with their o-mouths

and flashing their silver bellies.
                    Tourists gather
          and point, leaning over the waves

Like Sao Antonio. St. Catherine
                    has her wheel,
          St. John his sheep, St. Jerome his skull,

St. Francis his wounds.
                    But Anthony,
          lovely Anthony, savior of fish,

in Lisbon you are revered above all.
                    The widows
          kneel on the hard pews

and tell their beads,
                    their mouths
          opening and closing, opening and closing.


Copyright 1998, 2006,  Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts is the author of a book of poems, The Wishbone Galaxy, and editor of the on-line journal, Beltway: A Poetry Quarterly (http://washingtonart.com/beltway.html). “St. Anthony Preaches to the Fish” first appeared in Gargoyle.

 


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