David Radavich

Saint Spyridon

Why, exactly, do they kiss
these bones?

A silver sarcophagus ringed in lamps,
miniature portraits of madonnas
and saints, a line of believers

leading out the corner room,
out past the altar-rail, out to sun
and the world of shops and traffic horns

bring us all to this place
of tawny colors: drapes, candelabras,
gold leaf that dances overhead
for those who kneel.

Almost everyone, old and young,
removes a golden tallow, pays and parts
to the sandy plot where prayers
are planted, sometimes answered,

always voiced in thoughts
icons bring to consciousness:
seeking to draw out through the mouth
to mumbling and the light of day

beside a place where bones
have lain for centuries, they say,
and saved a few from catastrophe—

If lips keep demons away.