NICOLAS OF ANTIOCH, THE PROSELYTE
We were waiters, the seven of us,
anointed by Peter and the others
to feed the wives of martyred Greeks.
Stephen was our leader, and how beautiful
he was. His beard gleamed like smelted copper
in the heavy sun as we gathered wheat.
His shoulders moved like a weaver's
hands beneath his thin white robe.
I thought of the old stories, of Leda
taking the swan's warm, firm neck
in her hands and laying it across her lap.
I thought of feathers on damp skin,
the honk and flap of urgent love,
her tongue trailing the curve of his beak.
Mornings I watched as Stephen stirred
heaps of ash and coal to wake the fires
within the hearths we'd built together
from mud and clay and days of sweat.
When they killed him, I crouched among the stones
to hold him, kissed the place his face had been.
Nick McRae is the author of Mountain Redemption, winner of the Black River Chapbook Competition and forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press, and Moravia, forthcoming from Folded Word Press. His poems, reviews, and translations have appeared or will soon appear in Hayden's Ferry Review, Linebreak, Passages North, The Southern Review, Third Coast, and elsewhere.