Saint Apollonia

by richibi


"Saint Apollonia" - Francisco de Zurbarán

Saint Apollonia (1636)

Francisco de Zurbarán

___________

who ‘s Saint Apollonia, I asked my dentist
when he suggested I call on her to intercede
in this present mortification, I was sitting in
his chair undergoing treatment for a painful
abscess for which he’d aligned already
several instruments along my lower lip

the patron saint of toothaches, he replied,
as though she were a fairy

who knew, I marvelled, I’d only ever heard
of Saint Jude otherwise, patron saint of
lost causes, memorably

you must’ve been raised Catholic, I
interjected, Protestants don’t have
saints

yes, he stated, suggesting the shared
impact of an, however privately
relinquished, or distant, religion,
upbringing

he didn’t know about her time or place,
and counseled I should look into it

who wouldn’t

principally she lived in Alexandria, her
name alone could have given that away,
if Greeks had become Christian anywhere
it would’ve been in Alexandria then, 250,
a city close to the Christian source,
Palestine, and teeming with international
attention, though ruled long by Greeks,
you’ll remember Cleopatra had been of
Greek origin

in a wave of atrocities perpetrated by
Alexandrian mobs, unleashed during
commemorative festivities – see, for
instance, the Vancouver hockey game
riots to compare – roused by prophecies
of ill winds towards their city, set upon
Christians to appease their more raucous
gods, among them Apollonia

in Vancouver she was London Drugs
and the Bay

they pulled out her teeth, one by one,
which is why she’s represented with
pincers
, that done they threatened to
burn her alive should she not repeat
their profanities

she jumped, instead, herself, onto the
pyre

Jesus, Mary, Joseph, I exclaimed, quite,
quite uncharacteristically, but only other
too objectionable imprecations could’ve
reflected the extent of my consternation,
after that, I thought, what’s an abscess

later I brought him gratefully a bottle of
fine wine, to the fortified gate, however,
of his impervious secretary, though
serenely be she ever smiling, for having
tended with speed and alacrity to my
distress, however unworthy it may
have been of beatification

a French wine or a Marilyn Merlot, Napa
Valley, I had to ponder, bought both,
couldn’t resist, kept for myself, however,
not to render the choice to the intermediate
secretary, the Marilyn, my more familiar, and
headier, saint

cheers

Richard

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