St Scholastica

St Scholastica by Melissa Carmon


On the day when the thunderstorm arose to prevent St. Benedict from going home

Please stay, she had said,
knowing full well it was
against the rules
Please, let’s keep talking

They say
Twins have a sense of each other
two strings: when one is plucked
the other vibrates

She was not afraid of the dark
underbelly of things,
and her farsighted gaze
could see through to the heart
she could see behind the story,
behind way things looked to the rest of us

And on this occasion,
like every other,
she had thought of everything. 

Scholastica of intuition
Scholastica of vital knowledge
Scholastica, breaker-of-rules
Scholastica, giver of gifts

And this table of merry conversation
of a hundred afternoons and meetings
a table where the needs of her guests were
constantly supplied
The table where your glass was never empty
was about to be emptied

What is a castle without its queen,
what is a home without it’s master’s heart in it
but an empty hall, a lonely chamber

Scholastica, you were always right
even when we were sure you weren’t
Even when it was illogical, and especially when it was inconvenient
Even when we sure it would never happen

It was not until some days later
while praying, he said, he saw a vision of dove, and it was then he knew
her soul had flown to heaven.

Two halves of a whole
but oh, he had not seen it

They say
Twins have a sense of each other
Two ends of the same string
when one is plucked
the other vibrates.  
But he had not felt it this time. 

Scholastica, the airy heavens
were on your side
with the authority of an apostle
you simply asked 

and the thunders answered
your request
for one more evening
of conversation


Historical Background:  St. Scholastica (480?-543 CE) was the twin sister of St. Benedict of Nursia.  It is said that they were close as siblings, and that they greatly enjoyed talking together.  One on occasion, Scholastica implored Benedict and his monks to stay the night at the convent so that they could continue their conversation. However, it was against Benedict's monastic rule and he insisted that they return to the monastery at night. When Benedict refused, Scholastica prayed that they might stay, and a great storm arose that prevented the monks from leaving.  According to the story, Benedict was irritated, but the storm had arisen so swiftly and and was so severe that they had no choice but to stay.  They continued their conversation late into the night. Unbeknownst to St. Benedict, it would be the last time he would see his sister.  Some time later while he was praying, he saw a vision of a dove flying to heaven, and said that he knew then that Scholastica had died.