St Scholastica

St Scholastica by Melissa Carmon

The one thing we do not wish to know
Predictable as winter
Do not tell me, do not tell me
because perhaps
we may live forever

perhaps it is inevitable
but how could we believe it, we
who are in full stride
whose lungs breathe deep
whose eyes sparkle brightly

we who love and quarrel and complain
we who may grow sorer than we used to
we who stretch on stale mornings

Swifter than a weaver’s shuttle
And to some of us are given
seventy or eighty years
and yet, the writer says, 
even the best of years
are filled with pain and trouble

"Grant us, O Lord
A good night
And a peaceful death."

You cannot find it in a book
You cannot find it in a dictionary
No Atlas, or encyclopedia. 


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

Scholastica of foresight
Scholastica of vital knowledge
Scholastica, breaker-of-rules
Scholastica, giver of gifts. 

All learning
All knowledge
cannot give you
one piece of great information

And some days later,
he knew, he said
That her soul had flown to God.
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. 

"Wait for me, Benedicta." 
Two halves of a whole. 

Scholastica, whose prayers aroused the airy heavens
Scholastica, like an apostle, heard by God


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 enjoyed talking together.  One on occasion it is said that Scholastica implored Benedict and his monks to stay the night at the convent to continue their conversation, even though it was against Benedict's monastic rule not to 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. 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. 

Melissa Carmon