Saint Alphonsus instructed his followers:
“Take only what you need.” Retreating into
the desert, he lived for three weeks eating
volcanic ash, waiting on Uriel’s command.
After twenty days he was flame, his mind,
the arc of sky. He no longer felt his toes
scraping hot sands. He walked unharmed
past rattlesnakes, blended into copper hillsides,
drank from arid sage plants. The ascetic turned
into wind, moving effortlessly over mountains,
branches of tall cypress. Years later, clerics
found his rotted sandals, placed them as a relic
amid hair and purported bones of local saints.
Believers still come to place their hands
on the worn insteps where Alphonsus stood
looking into the archangel’s eyes. Supplicants
touch desert dust to tongues, reverently bow,
attempt to cast off everything but their marrow.