Feast Day There’s a patron saint for everything. Nearly all the early ones were martyred. The world has always been this bloody. St. Justus was nine when he was reported as a Christian. Beheaded, he held his head in his hands. My grandmother confessed, as doctrine willed it, weekly. She was so good, and always right. What could she have confessed? She knew the name for every kind of fork and where to place each one for the dinner party. The Devil was real perhaps but not to be spoken of, God a disapproving uncle you’d do your best not to disappoint. Which saint could she have prayed to when her first daughter, days old, died for no reason? When she woke, years later, from childbirth, with no womb to bear more children? Impolite to speak of the body and its openings and its failures. At seventy and seventy-five she spoke still of driving an elderly friend to the doctor, but by eighty she’d grown tired of opening the paper each morning to find the obituaries filled with names she knew. Each saint is feasted on their dies natalis, the birth into the next life. It was my birthday the day my grandmother died, and so now we share the day with St. Liberata, St. Gwen, and St. Luke, whose gospel is the only one to tell the story of the Annunciation. The saints can’t touch us, or else they’re ineffectual, or unjust. Confession doesn’t count if you say it only to yourself. The first daughter’s name is my name. My grandmother wrote her own obituary, and when the paper ran it not one of us knew what the middle initial of the daughter who preceded her stood for. There was no one left to ask. Naming The World When he’s past a year, then 18 months and still not speaking, we begin to teach the baby signs, scooping the air in front of us for want, circling a fist over our hearts for please. It’s more he uses most, gathering the fingers on each hand together, then touching the fingertips over and over and over. At meals we ask more cheese, or more turkey? more banana or more cracker? holding each item in the air so he can learn to choose, trying to tie the sounds of words to the objects he wants. The signs go general and in excitement he signs more and more, more water in the bath, more blocks, more milk, more dancing. Without a word to stitch it to, the sign’s sometimes hard to parse. Sometimes it seems it’s just a baby way of saying joy. More dogs, more snow, more plastic t-rex stomping over train tracks. Sitting on the floor with the new baby kicking at my ribs, this wondrous not-quite baby smiling at his trains, baby, yes, more of this. More of all of it.