The Ancient Modern

Ritual  /  Joshua Alan Sturgill

On the Feast of Saint Charitina, it was always customary 
for the village children to steal the ribbons and earrings 
from their mothers’ dressing tables (which have been left

for them to take) and hide them among the family Icons.  
Then, mothers exclaim about the theft, and fathers pray
the Prayer to Saint Charitina, which recounts all

her courage and her sufferings, and how she helped 
the Christians find the food and possessions taken 
from them by the Romans, even while Charitina herself

was being taken to the fire. This is how children begin 
to learn the goodness of God and the fidelity of Saints: 
not, of course, in earrings and holidays, but in the joy

of their mothers’ joy, and in the power of their fathers’ 
voices—a marriage of suddenness and permanence— 
which only old faith and old walls can fully understand

All poetry and supplementary material: copyright 2021 by Joshua Alan Sturgill. All rights reserved.

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