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St. James the Less

for Marlys

It may or may not be a sin, but I cannot hear your name, St. James
the Less, without crocheting apocrypha for you, without drafting
sentences, all of which start Nonetheless, St. James the Less
and then lapse, describing a world whose vividness—the molting sycamores
and lepers, an urn lurching on the potter’s wheel, the fishermen darning
their nets—always trumped your quiet rectitude.

Nonetheless, St. James the Less—after the Greater James, his fervor
all joy and rage, and not unlike simple imprudence, anointed the contrite
and doused those who had it coming—it must have been you (was it not?)
blotting kerosene from all the penitents’ habits.