“Angels and Saints” by Chloe DeFilippis
She kissed her hand then placed it on the foot of a saint. She lit a votive candle. I did the same. On either side of St. Michael’s Church were tall, plaster statues of Jesus, Mary, and the saints. As a little girl, I thought they’d come to life. I thought this trick—kissing the foot, lighting the candle—meant what my mother told me: If you pray to a saint, they’ll listen. I thought this was especially true if the church was empty. We didn’t attend mass, but after CCD, my mother whispered, “Let’s sneak in for a second.” In unison, we dipped our fingers in holy water, crossed ourselves, and tiptoed past the pews to our saints. During my early childhood, those somber-faced beings seemed to belong to us, as if our secret prayers solidified a sacred bond, one that was strong enough to make my mother tear as she rose from her knees. I believed in angels more than I believed in God then. I believed they were in the speckles of sunlight that shone through the stained glass windows. And I believed they could tell me what was wrong, what the saints were saying that made my mother cry.
Share your response to this work, in any form, here
Chloe DeFilippis Artist Statement: Chloe DeFilippis was born and raised in Bayonne, a tiny blue-collar peninsula in New Jersey, where she currently resides. She graduated from New Jersey City University in January 2015 with a Bachelor’s degree in English/Creative Writing, having completed an honors thesis in memoir. Chloe uses her perspective as the youngest in a six-person, working-class family of Italian- and Polish-American heritage to inform her work. Her poetry and flash nonfiction have been published in the journal Voices in Italian Americana as well as in the e-anthology Olive Grrrls. She was the 2015 recipient of the Walter Glospie Academy of American Poets Prize and is currently the proud moderator of her 100-word writing group, which has been together for two years. When she’s not writing, Chloe is tending to her small vegetable garden.