Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!
Hildegard of Bingen on her deathbed, September 1179

That polished, hot smell
like a room closed too long”
is there an open flame?

Such flickering in the shadows,
swirls of marble, sea pebbles,
then deep forest green.
How is it I see these now?

In those hours from four to sext,
do your reading, daughters.
You will have from Easter
to October for outdoor work.

Test the candles, Clementia”
that sweet scent. See them lit.
Hang them in the hallway
outside the chapel. For thirty days,
remember, after I am dead.

Did I not say that I would die
in mid-September? Too long
this dryness in my marrow.

That form on the wall,
the crest and dagger of purple”
and there, a yellow orb,
a diamond flanked by darts.

Those colors, Clementia, in the center”
gold and red, cerise, then amber”
how like arcs of lightning.
The light of Christ.

Let the rainfall be grace.
Let this green earth take me.