The Reliquary

The Reliquary – Deborah L. Davitt

Passing through customs
isn’t easy even without
carrying a lead-lined casket.

In spite of a dozen well-signed forms,
from a church calling itself St. Samyaza,
agents remained dubious.

“We’ve never heard of this saint—”
“There are so many,” the handler replied, smiling.
“What’s he the patron of?”

“He’s the angel who watches over
mankind, and gave us art and knowledge—
Prometheus by another name.”

Humorless, the customs agents grunted,
“Never heard of either. What else did he do?
Turn water into wine, carry his head around in his hand?”

“He and his gave us science, letters, and art;
Azrael, his follower, gave us weapons
with which to defend ourselves—”

“Someone the Second Amendment nutjobs.
could get behind. There could be anything inside
that case; you’re going to have to open it.”

The handler complied, revealing a box of ivory,
jewel-studded, wax-sealed. Customs insisted
that this, too, should be opened.

The handler at first demurred—
then put on gloves and welding goggles.
“It’s best to shield your eyes,” he warned.

Inside the case, a single feather
from a seraphim uncoiled its flames
like a solar flare, searing their eyes,

unfurled itself across the airport
with a crackle of thunder
and a smell of ozone.

People threw themselves to the ground,
alarms blared, fire systems sprayed; and,
every camera in the airport went off-line.

A massive terrorist hunt ensued,
searching for both handler and relic;
but no proper description could be made;

and to this date, neither has been found.


Deborah L. Davitt was raised in Nevada, but currently lives in Houston, Texas with her husband and son.  Her poetry has received Rhysling, Dwarf Star, and Pushcart nominations; her short fiction has appeared in InterGalactic Medicine ShowCompelling Science Fiction, Pseudopod, and Galaxy’s Edge. For more about her work, including her Edda-Earth novels, please see