“It is the pain, it is the pain endures.
Your chemic beauty burned my muscles through.”
William Empson, Villanelle
January 14 is the feast day of St. Barbasceminus and Sixteen of His Clergy, Martyrs, which, if I was going to have a seventeen piece band, I would totally name it that.
St. Barb, as I’ll call him, was the brother of Sadoth (also a saint BTW). The story is that Barb wouldn’t give in to demands of Persian King Sapor II who told Barb to stop preaching against some of the Persian gods. Before he killed him, the king confined Barb in a “loathsome dungeon” for a year and intermittently tortured him and his men with one result that “Their bodies were disfigured by their torments, and their faces discoloured by a blackish hue which they had contracted.” That sounds pretty dreadful.
But it makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Is there a dungeon that wouldn’t fit the description loathsome? And if so, would that mean simply absence of torture; or possibly the presence of some meager amenities like say, hot water or a tempurpedic cot, or overpriced room service. Which makes me think that a rating system that lists from one to five stars to indicate the quality of the establishment would be of no help to describe the degree of loathsomeness of any particular dungeon.
Since I need such a rating system to illustrate the point of this post, first I had to institute a rating system that covers the negative scale, say one to five emoticons for brimstone – one being the best of the worst and five the most loathsome on the scale measured by St. Barb’s accommodations in his final year as a guest of the king. But then, I encountered a setback. It turns out that there is no keyboard symbol for brimstone!
For the purposes of this post, I have risen to this challenge and decided to use the universal symbol for pirate: N (which is the Capital N in Windings font). By this scale, St. Barbasceminus’ loathsome accommodations would clearly get a rating of NNNN. You’ll see in a minute why I don’t give him five pirates. But now we have a point of reference for loathsome conditions. Problem solved, and I can almost get to the point of this post.
But first, who gets five pirates? In my opinion, the only fate worse than St. Barbasceminus in this story would arguably be that of his 16 other clergy who don’t even get name recognition for the feast day of their martyrdom. At least St. Barb got top billing. If I could pick my own patron saint, I’d go with Clergyman #11, Martyr, who didn’t even make it into the top ten, thus however earning him the distinction of his final imprisonment and death a rate of NNNNN.
Now I can get to the point of this post. Today, I’m praying to Saint #11 that this string of below freezing night temperatures will abate and I can take the sheets and towels off of my potted succulents. Their accommodations beneath bath towels and old bed sheets in my backyard merits maybe two pirates. Five pirates would be the terrible torture they would undergo by having their vascular systems frozen and bursting their tender leaves and stems. That would have been their fate if I had failed to cover them with bed sheets and towels these past 4 nights.
So who better to pray to than Saint #11? Succulents martyred at the hands of a killing frost have bodies that are also disfigured by the torments of and left discolored and black. Coincidence?