St. Catherine of Alexandria and the Red Sea
by Chad Heltzel

The captain of a Red Sea ferry [the Saint Catherine] has admitted he steered clear of a doomed ship that sank between Saudi Arabia and Egypt with the loss of about 1,000 lives to avoid a “second catastrophe.”
—Agence France Presse

We have not these acts in their original form.

		Lamp light burns in the oratory:  bush fire.

												On the water, fire burns for hours.  The captain turned away.

Transformed and distorted by fantastic and diffuse descriptions.

		In angels’ hands, her fragile body carried to the mountain top.

												The glass ruins of the office.  The windowpane an empty spider web.

												Two rescued by boat.  A man and a boy.

The imagination of the narrators.

		Shards flying from the wheel:  wood spikes.

												Crowds gather at the ambulance window.

To charm their readers by recitals of the marvelous.  Who cared less.

		The monastery now a fortress to ward off Saracens.  Conversion.

												A row of policemen dressed in black.  The crowd throws rocks.

Invested with a halo of charming poetry and miraculous power.

												A tire, a mound of stones.  Fire burning in the circle.
Packingtown Review – Vol.5, Fall 2013

Chad Heltzel's poems and reviews have previously appeared in Cream City Review, Faultline, Hamilton Stone Review, Fifth Wednesday, Konundrum Engine Literary Review, and Sarmatian Review. Chad currently lives in Chicago and teaches World Literature and College English at UIC College Prep High School.

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