Excerpts > Winter 2002

Ann Hudson
Saint Francis Meets Ella Fitzgerald

It's early evening, the stars
just clicking on in the spangled vaults
of heaven. A fine sheen

of sweat glistens the cocktail glasses.
Tonight, like every night, the cover charge
is minimal, and the view

is outstanding. Small talk,
like music, is all about improvising
on a known quantity: the weather,

the family, the recessed murals everyone knows
conceal secret passageways.
Decked out in a robe of sparrows,

the bird-guy gets a bead on the woman
receding into the shadows. He smiles
at her shyness, threading

his way across the crowded room.
As if on cue, Gabriel steps up
for a solo, arching so far back

his rosy robes sweep the horizon.
Francis gently guides her by the elbow
to the microphone. As her song

unravels from her throat he thinks,
Lord, make me an instrument,
and means just that.

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