Poetry Friday: “Francis and the Saint”

When I’m not writing children’s poetry, writing advertising copy, or writing my blog, I’m writing adult poetry.  Sorry, those two words together – “adult poetry” – just sound weird…but I just don’t know how else to differentiate it from all my children’s poetry.  In last Friday’s post, I made reference to poets being stereotypically sullen and depressed, and while this doesn’t really describe Yours Truly, I do like to put on my Serious Hat now and then and write poems for an older crowd.

This happens to be one of those poems.

It’s a very personal poem (of course, they all are, aren’t they?) – because I wrote it about my wife’s paternal grandfather, Francis.  She and I were very close to him, and we asked if he would be the Best Man at our wedding in August 2008.  He accepted, but unfortunately passed away that spring, before he was able to fulfill his duties.  A deeply religious man, a devout Catholic, he felt a strong connection to his patron saint, St. Francis of Assisi, and he always believed that my wife and I found each other because of his prayers.

Considering the crushing emotional difficulties she and I had gone through with our respective divorces, and the fact that we stumbled upon each other so quickly and strongly, we had every reason to believe it, as well.

Imagine the irony, then, that this poem – written two years after Francis’ death – would end up being published by St. Francis College’s Assisi: Online Journal of Arts & Letters.

Sometimes, things just have a way of working out.

Francis and the Saint

Grandfather loved his birds.
They weren’t really his, of course –
flying to him from the trees and bushes,
out of the sky above, from behind
lining the cobblestone,
and in-between
awnings and light posts.

Alighting upon his shoulder
or a finger or two
never outstretched
nor enticing,
they must have sensed
safety, security,
calmness of mind.

He attributed that to his namesake
the deacon,
the patron saint
the one who gave what he had
built what he could
and became rich in poverty.

And now, as grandfather’s birds
return to him
this final time
from behind the clouds
and rain-soaked pillars,
sparrow, robin, wren
perch upon his bed
and grandfather
in quiet requiescence

© 2010 Matt Forrest Esenwine

If you’d like, you can view the entire issue which includes my poem here.  And Poetry Friday hostess Violet Nesdoly has today’s complete roundup!

30 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: “Francis and the Saint”

  1. It’s the kind of poem that leaves a hush in the room — a reverent beauty and grace that gently settles upon the reader. It reminds me of the Native American belief that birds are the messengers between heaven and earth. So lovely, Matt — also enjoyed the backstory about Grandfather. 🙂


    1. Thank you, all! BJ, funny how sometimes, one single, unusual word like ‘requiescence’ is the only one that will work, isn’t it? Renee, you should read some ofthe more depressing stuff I’ve come up with – ‘freeing,’ indeed! And Jama, I’m glad the reverence came through…I discovered it’s not easy writing a poem about death that needs to be gentle and uplifting without being dark or even melancholy.


  2. Lovely poem, Matt. I love the bird parallel between Grandfather and St. Francis. The last verse is so poignant. Just that word “final” says it all. Great internal rhyme in that last verse, too! Just writing about life experiences we all must face is freeing, I think.


  3. Janet F.

    I felt your grandfather in your words and tribute, Matt. A man who could relate to birds, with whom they found safety and comfort, is a man to be well-loved and remembered. That he was not enticing, but offered calmness of mind, are two of my favorite parts. Safety and security, too. I think children have this sense, too. They just know. I would love to hear you read your poem.


  4. What a wonderful poem, Matt! It’s always great when poems we write out of personal inspiration resonate with a larger audience. It looks like it found a publication home in just the right place.


  5. As you know, my grandmother, who loved birds, died last week. Very timely poem for me. I went to visit Assisi and was impressed — it looks great. It’s a wonderful bit of serendipity to have your poem about Grandfather Francis there.


    1. I do feel for you and your family, Tabatha…and like I said, sometimes things just havea way of working out. I honestly had no idea why I picked this poem to feature; perhaps we now know why.


  6. As I was reading your first paragraph I thought, “‘Adult poetry’ sounds funny,” and then you said the same thing. 🙂 I really like this poem a lot. I love the way you’ve combined your wife’s grandfather and Saint Francis and the birds. Beautiful.


  7. Lovely poem, Matt. St. Francis and your wife grandfather served as reminders to be open to nature and animals. My son is traveling to Italy this summer and will visit Assisi. I’m so pleased for him!


  8. Pingback: Poetry Friday: “Mud Pies for Sale!” « Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

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