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The Nancy Walton Pringle Memorial Prize

Frances Pearce
Mt. Pleasant, SC

 

Beatissimus Thomas

Ten years after his friend’s martyrdom

he hunkers over passages of diagonal lattice 

at the base and crown of the letter P. 

As he paints onto the vellum page, 

his brushstrokes become slender dancers 

in gold-edged garb. They have stepped 

from sky blue lettered blocks 

to a carpet of ochre and burgundy.

Their promenade is a delicate 

braid. Courtly flourish, bow. 

Now they turn, weave paths. Chaste

eyes glance lightly as they pass.


The vertical itself is a corridor of S’s. 

Spin, sashay, now swirl the other way. 

Heads tilt, bodies sway. Halfway through, 

enter the moon-faced cat. Its impish smile. 


Now follow this cat to the curl’s great spiral, 

a spring coiled to keep heaven ticking, 

dizzy labyrinth haunted with squiggle 

of stoats, wriggle of weasels, 

although, hard to tell, could be opalescence 

of otters. Then, yet again, the cat. 


And the gambol? Who’s to say this scribe 

did not pirouette, drunk on the sublime, 

the halls of Cirencester Abbey? Who is to say 

he did not dance in his cell, bare feet on cold stone?