“Flannery and St Thomas Take II” takes as its epigraph a typically contrarian passage from one of O’Connor’s letters:
I feel I can personally guarantee that St. Thomas loved God because for the life of me I cannot help loving St. Thomas. His brothers didn’t want him to waste himself being a Dominican and so locked him up in a tower and introduced a prostitute into his apartment. Her he ran out with a red-hot poker. It would be fashionable today to be in sympathy with the woman, but I am in sympathy with Thomas.
—Flannery O’Connor, Letter to Elizabeth Hester, August 9, 1955
Sunday morning and what do I know
beyond my own foolishness? I spend
my days with crazies who come from my brain.
Thank God for Thomas. He keeps me sane.
A man who knows his nature and his end,
keeps both forever fixed in view
so as not to get waylaid on the road
to salvation, unlike the worser person
I am, easily derailed by temptation,
what’s pretty and what’s witty and what’s new.
Like the peacock loves his tail I love my work.
Seduced by sinners, fools, & jerks
I delight in as I write in my study,
my pen my poker, my thoughts often bloody.