St. Perpetua/St. Felicity

The pain wasn’t in dying

but in belief in you, that you required of me

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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.

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