Poem: “Unknown Martyr”


Unknown Martyr

Each night, she scrubs tile floors
after waiting tables all day:
her hands and knees raw, exhaustion
bringing her one day closer to death.

Her only thought, a son and daughter—
how to keep them fed with a roof over head,
how to survive another month,
how to pray in the midst of pain.

Kneeling on dirty, wet vestibule block
is not as glamorous as Joan (burnt by soldiers)
or Clement (tossed with an anchor into the sea)
or Stephen (stoned by a mob).

Each Saint quickly sacrificed
while her martyrdom is decades long,
her life laid down bit by bit each evening
through the instrument of a soapy brush.

Tim Bete


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