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  • Laurel Benjamin

Orvieto Miracle

by Laurel Benjamin

A pink cloth hangs in this church, body and blood of Christ—

some like the priest, shocked at bleeding after prayers.

Pilgrims come to Signorelli’s The Last Judgement

in this town built hundreds of feet on tufa rock

where cats idle on cobblestones

and ceramics are sold.

We’ve come to view Etruscan ruins

museums where black pots have orange lines,

where caves with dove cotes are found underground ,

to enjoy pasta with truffles, along with grilled vegetables

and a town wine. Weekdays we walk past the Il Gelato sign,

past street art, wood carving of a giant horse,

and on weekends through the church parking lot

where the Fiat 500 Club sets up.

The parade has started, moving past the cars

altar boys in white robes and red shawls

supporting a tapestry depicting the miracle

Jesus on the cross.

We categorize miracles, this one eucharistic

host bleeding, bread and wine becoming body

but how do we categorize wishing for a miracle—

once people asked for rain to fall, rain to cease,

and I’ve asked for a cancer cure, or lost in the wilderness

for rescuers to appear.

This town, perched at the end of a long steep road

for tourists, demands a train station and

the funincular, no miracle but a conveyance.

I would settle for an every day miracle

in the wake of Christ, so close to us,

town aglow at the end of the day, roof tiles

and buildings an orange rose not easily dismissed.

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