Our Lady of Sorrows Opens Up to God (My Mother as St. Mary)
Do you remember those nights
I stayed up listening for you,
how I couldn’t stop speaking to the wind?
Even a good husband is a poor god
is all I could think,
which must have been wrong.
We get so much and own nothing here.
I asked for faith and you gave me religion.
I wake up hungry. Father,
who are you
but who our fathers gave us?
Who we feel in the softness
of the skin on the backs of their hands.
Who we hear cradled
in our mothers’ closed mouths.
A good woman is hard to find,
my own father used to say,
looking around like he couldn’t see me.
He could be funny like that.
He told me this is how you come to us:
waiting for us to find you
and then everything after is blessings.
But could I confess? Speaking to you
is like remembering a city in waking
I once saw rippling in a dream—
I can’t stop thinking of creation
as disembodiment, a kind of violence. In truth,
I never asked for this sorrow,
this hallow. My father,
my husband, I never asked to be blessed.
St. Agatha Spurns the Suitor Who Would Have Her Executed
after Francisco de Zurbarán’s St. Agatha (oil on canvas, 1633)
And as the sun glazed him in dusk,
I’ll confess, he looked like a statue
of a man I could have wanted.
He reminded me of the loneliness I cherished.
How could I have known then
how intimately our faith can ruin us?
That it’s the spectacle of our ruin
for which we will come to be loved.
I almost wanted love.
The truth is I’ve no use for beauty.
And so I asked my God to take mine from me.
That night I dreamed of mirrors,
of staring back into myself
through the glassy border of sleep,
a garnet ribbon streaming from my neck
like blood unraveling delicately in water.