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

An elderly woman wears a protective face mask as she walks with shopping bags during the COVID-19 pandemic in Barcelona, Spain, April 1, 2020. (CNS photo/Nacho Doce, Reuters)
In Europe, there is a broad consensus that the elderly have suffered the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic—some have called it a “silent massacre.”
Melissa VidaMay 25, 2020
A solitary customer in a restaurant in Stockholm, Sweden, on April 28. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
The Swedish approach to Covid-19 has been to suggest rather than mandate social distancing, reports the pastor of a small island parish in the Baltic. So far that has meant a higher death toll than in other Nordic countries.
Charles TalleyMay 25, 2020
We should not forget to mourn as the country begins to decide how to most prudently restart life.
The EditorsMay 24, 2020
Francis called for reflection on the encyclical in which he “sought to draw attention to the cry of the earth and of the poor.”
Gerard O’ConnellMay 24, 2020