St. Perpetua/St. Felicity
The pain wasn’t in dying
but in belief in you, that you required of me
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.