St. Perpetua/St. Felicity

The pain wasn’t in dying

but in belief in you, that you required of me

Advertisement

my motherhood. Harder than giving my son away

was asking for the strength to leave him,

knowing I would become that strong,

that, like any mother, I would submit

to being known by the ones whose names

my own knelt into. My God,

I left my life behind me. And still,

I wasn’t yours, exactly. I wanted more of myself

for you. When the wolves were set loose,

I could only ask for teeth.

I wanted show. I loved the whips,

their urgent artistry, the calligraphy of praises

drawn across the canvas of my back.

And as the boy soldier’s hand set

to trembling, I couldn’t help but take the blade myself,

show him where its edge would leave me

holy. Father, forgive me my greed.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement
More: Poetry

The latest from america

Robert MacDougall in “Boys State” (photo: A24) 
In a new award-winning documentary about Texas Boys State, democracy is fraught with conflict.
Ryan Di CorpoAugust 14, 2020
We use the words “mystery” and “miracle” not to say that science has been stumped but rather to express the expansive claim that an event makes upon us.
Terrance KleinAugust 14, 2020
It has been two years since the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report was published, documenting in disturbing detail at least 1,000 cases of abuse by 300 predator priests spanning seven decades.
Colleen DulleAugust 14, 2020
The precedent for attacking an opponent on religious grounds is more apt than you might think.