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.