To Francis

By Abigail Carroll - Winooski, Vermont, USA - 27 August 2015



That you proposed a pact with a wolf

     should make me think you


mad. You were so obsessed with peace
     it struck you blind. Why not die


halting the Crusades, let the sultan spill
     your blood (some say you left


for Egypt with just that in mind). It would
     have been a hero’s end --


you would have died a martyr’s death.
     Instead, you risked it all


on a howling dog, wild with hunger, not
     very fond of men. The town


declared war. Gubbio was up in arms,
     but leave it to you, my friend,


you and your charmingly ludicrous truce:
     first you rebuked the brute, then


tendered a pledge (in Italian, no less --
     not exactly its mother tongue!)


It should have laughed, slaughtered you
     on spot, but, stayed by your voice,  
happily gave in, agreed to live on gifts
     of meat and cause no undue


harm -- they say it raised its paw to seal
     the deal. I’d call this a tale,


the kind men spin when they want the pope
     to make a man a saint, but how


to explain the bones of a wolf unearthed
     in the Gubbio chapel’s crypt?