Doug Van Gundy

The Martyrdom of Saint Porcine

The saint is always depicted, like Saints

Catherine or John, with the machinery

of his martyrdom:  splayed across an old

box-spring, astride a bed of glowing hickory

embers.   His dark eyes, though piggy and small,

glisten with kindness.


His pale pink skin is unwrinkled and clean

and hasn’t yet found a brown enough hue

to match his humility; although the inevitable

is evident in the neatly stacked billets of cordwood,

the proximity of the damp mop and bucket of sanguine

sauce, the beads of moisture that freckle his small face,

indistinguishable from his tears.


The hills in the background are vaguely Italianate

and shimmer lightly in the distance.  The air is illuminated

by curlicues of scented smoke and the jubilant forms

of tiny cherubs, announcing to the heavens, over and over,

the transfiguration of mere mortal flesh

into something approaching the divine.



“The Martyrdom of Saint Porcine” first appeared in The Oxford American, Issue 61, Summer 2008.