Advent: A Collect
Break-in and battery two weeks before the season’s grand hallelujah: broken glass from a shattered window wreathed her body, found below in the tub. Did the pills let her creep there, as if searching for a manger, a word ringing with “safety”? Usually afraid—a grandfather’s multiple rapes—to shower or bathe alone, what else could have eased this blood-stained pilgrimage, ropes trailing around her wrists and ankles as though she were a half-opened gift? Lord, let me pluck a sole skein-like straw of understanding. Let the drugs that thrummed in her system have blackened the room and all sense so that she felt nothing in those pre-dawn Christmas hours. Saw no rising Eastern star through the jagged window pane or suffered Your cold breath on her frosted, bluing skin. Amen.
Divorce: A Collect
Lord, he called me a snake and our marriage invalid because performed by a bear and sexually predatory priest. Let me interrupt my prayer unto Thee: it wasn’t a bear, but a judge who loved safaris and taxidermied his chambers with trophies, one ursine. As for snakes, yes, I wear a diamond cloak and admire my own litheness of spine, coil and recoil through this world on my belly, feeling vibrations—like coming footsteps—and I rise to bite the heels which would tread on me. Why are the fangs that fill and glisten then pop, sharpened, through my mouth’s pink roof always ascribed to a male version of me? I may not be the apple of anyone’s eye—except Eve’s, hungry for girl-talk—but pumped venom should be prized if it brings souls closer to you. Or say the Word only, and I shall protect us from any further thudding of bodies and purge the world with Our venomous song. Amen.
Diann Blakely is the author of Hurricane Walk (BOA Editions, 1992), named one of the year’s ten best poetry collections by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Farewell, My Lovelies (Story Line, 2000), an Academy of American Poets Book Club’s special feature; and Cities of Flesh and the Dead, winner of the Alice Fay DiCastagnola Award (1999) for a manuscript-in-progress and the 7th annual Elixir Book publication prize (2008). A two-timePushcart winner and former poetry editor at Antioch Review, she is currently at work on Rain in our Door: Duets with Robert Johnson and other poems.