She was so beautiful. She vibrated with life.

I tossed her an apple from the neighbors orchard

she reached out and caught it one-handed

her skin honey, her hair like burnt offerings.

I needed her like I needed reed and ink.

Soft belly and taut breasts held high on her frame

like melons fresh from the boat in Aphrodisium.

I wanted and I got.

I played with her like a small child plays,

with intense and unrestrained inventiveness.

I filled her belly with my seed and a son was

conceived. Adeodatus, my gift from God.

When my mother begged me to marry her

so that I could take full communion with the Lord

I could not easily oblige,

But the world that I saw coming, a world of words

and the meanings of words

would be so engrossing

that I could hardly be expected to share it with her.

An illiterate young thing. It wouldn’t be fair.

I told her to leave my son with me

and together we would part our love down the middle.

I would take my share and bury it.

She smiled at me as though I was a poor, dumb fool

“Augustine, there is nothing on this earth that

would give you more joy than to hear

your ideas spread like chaff in the wind

or your name spoken with undeserved reverence.

You’ll know what you’ve left behind. One day.

One day I too will look back and remember with

affection the man who gave me his love, but not his life.”

Her courage shamed me. Her graciousness was real.

She was stronger than me.

Far too strong.

At the dock, boarding the ship

leaving for Carthage,

she was so beautiful

and vibrating with life.