KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 6: Fall 2016
Micro-Fiction: 438 words

The Lies of the Saints

by Eileen Malone

The old nuns, the ones who preferred to stay behind, continue to wear bombazine habits, starched white scarves, black shoes and socks. They have received permission to live out their days in what’s left of the nunnery, maintaining the dry, rocky convent grounds and the abundant rosemary topiaries that appear to burn with small blue-petaled flames continuously, in a kind of continuance, that on special occasions, teaches a value that scalds, that scorches.

Devout pilgrims make daytrips to the abandoned island village. They come by ferry to culminate long, refined, deliberate novenas that invoke certain special and patron saints, the disappeared beatified, the ones that have evolved with them, granted petitions, changed with them, caused miracles, kept growing, didn’t stop just because the Vatican told them to. Oh they know how one of the popes threw out six hundred saints on grounds they never existed, but the old nuns never let that interfere with what they do. Nor should they, for from kneelers to coffins they rescue whatever floats to their shores.

Communicants wait respectfully in and around the chapel ruins with camcorders and cameras for the procession of shuffling, faded ravens to pass. They genuflect as the nuns spread themselves to kneel themselves on various prie-dieux at the feet of plaster saints, martyrs, and penitents. Some are dressed in brocade robes and jeweled crowns. They stand steadfast in defiance of any ex-cathedra proclamations of the expelled canonized. On their knees, the holy sisters out-click such nonsense with beryl rosary beads and fingernails, sign blessings by touching crucifixes to their foreheads, restore faith through whispered multilingual litanies. The true believers don’t mind the cassette tape of Latin murmurs; some even imagine the aromatic hint of frankincense after it is turned off.

Before evensong, before formal sanction, before they are escorted to the pier and the waiting ferry, the visitors are seated on benches under filigreed branches of ficus and olive, and fed grilled eggplant, hunks of goat cheese, and cups of olives righteously and piously, and invited to partake in the sales of small carved filigree wooden boxes filled with twigs and bird bones and rodent skeletons miraculously transmuted into sacred bodily relics of whichever venerated saint they wanted them to be at whatever given moment.

The last ferryboat of the day leaves the rosemary-fragrant island every evening when the sea and sky are the right wash of rose-orange and blood and somewhere on another continent, behind the priest, pulpit, and prayer, a retroactive saint returns to step into his or her image in an intensely crackling and crazed stained glass window.

Eileen Malone’s
Issue 6, Fall 2016

poems and stories have been published in over 500 literary journals and anthologies, literary as well as mainstream, and have earned numerous awards, including three Pushcart nominations. She lives in the coastal fog at the edge of the San Francisco Bay Area where she founded in 1992 the Soul-Making Keats Literary Competition, which she now directs.

Site contains text, proprietary computer code,
and graphic images that are protected by:

⚡   Many thanks for taking time to report broken links to: KYSOWebmaster [at] gmail [dot] com   ⚡