Portrait in Graphite and Ornamental Hagiography
C. Dale Young
You may not believe it, but I have tried,
set my sights on the morning star
in belief it would guide me. I have tried.
I have tried, as the Jesuits taught, to be
singular, to be whole, to be one. The labor
of this was exhausting. Time reveals things
one need not appreciate when young, and I fear
being singular, being one, is something
damned near impossible for someone
like me. Saint Jerome, cloistered in a tiny room,
found his singular calling in updating
the Latin Bible with his knowledge of Greek texts.
In Assisi, Saint Francis updated nature, called birds
out of the trees. I am, unfortunately, no saint.
Fractured, divided to the quick, I am incapable
of being singular. And the old nun who taught Art
at my high school, who called me a stupid mongrel,
understood this very fact long before I did.
Profession, family, belief: I can see now
my background challenges me, prevents me
from remaining true to only one thing. The fog,
settled over Ocean Beach, settles the matter
by embracing everything indiscriminately,
and I want to understand why I notice
such things. For most of my life, I have desired
a category, a designation, but maybe
that desire was misplaced? Maybe it was just
another failure, a failure of imagination?
Outside, two hummingbirds cross-stitch the air.
They have lived here for so long, lived
off the “nectar” I boil up for them each week,
that they show me no semblance of fear or distrust—
they hover and feed near me with violent precision.