For Saint Valentine, on the Occasion of His Martyrdom

by Sonya Taaffe

Among the pagan dead, you would have been a flower,
transfigured for love of God
like Hyakinthos with Apollo,
day-turning Klytie with the Sun.
Emperor-martyred in murex-rich Rome, why wonder
that your name turned damask-red petals,
the heat of shared beds,
cacao's sweet bitter from across an imperial sea?
Your blood spilled and legends sprang up
gilt as a card, amethyst-ringed
as Cupid drunk in love.
Heart to heart, we give our hands
and you witness,
nodding as gracefully
as Adonis' blood under the wind.

Sonya Taaffe's short fiction and poetry can be found in the collections Ghost Signs (Aqueduct Press), A Mayse-Bikhl (Papaveria Press), Postcards from the Province of Hyphens (Prime Books), and Singing Innocence and Experience (Prime Books), and in various anthologies including The Humanity of Monsters, Genius Loci: Tales of the Spirit of Place, and Dreams from the Witch House: Female Voices of Lovecraftian Horror. She is currently senior poetry editor at Strange Horizons; she holds master's degrees in Classics from Brandeis and Yale and once named a Kuiper belt object. She lives in Somerville with her husband and two cats.

When asked to name her favourite fruit, she replied as follows: "I have no constant answer to this question; it shifts by season. Pomegranates are always popular, but right now it’s winter, so my favorite fruit is the clementine."

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