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.

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