Diann Blakely

Two Collects

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-DispatchFarewell, 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.