Prayer to St. Christina Mirabilis
…food abstention was an expression of grief
and repentance, a plea for deliverance…
- Caroline Walker Bynum, Holy Feast and Holy Fast: The Religious Significance of Food to Medieval Women
crescent-moon perfection’s path
i’m asking for guidance
to earn a scraped raw mouth
every bit of him picked from my teeth
if we switched places, christina,
would you have done like i did
when butterfly-pinned to the mattress
let it happen and go empty and wait
or would you have fought
twisted away instead of leaned in
christina, tell me:
is it wrong
to shake loose this skin he touched
into less for him to hurt next time
christina, teach me to splinter
crumble my tongue let it ash-fall
make my bones into rapture
and learn to hear god
in the hollow of my belly
suck bruises into flesh. blossom violets on my chest. i am a husk of a girl. hold my fingers to the rough of your tongue. worry this is a dream, that when you wake up tomorrow, i will be gauzy and thin like cotton. if you leave open the window, i will float out. i will flatten myself and slip under the door. weigh me down. say you don’t want to be anywhere but here and melt against my neck. kiss my thighs. try to press love into them. whisper into bruises.
i listen and almost believe you.
ask if i would ever want marriage. me a vision boiling over in white. our families fractured together. our children forked tongues and oil-stained eyes their fingers prunes from treading water. i lie yes to make you stay. lie that i am the most beautiful girl you have ever been with. marvel at your luck. i ask if you love me. say you love my body. there is just so much of it, you feel like you will never be able to touch it all. this is a compliment to the sinful excess of me. the generous belly. the overflowing arms. the spillage of my thighs. endless.
this is you doing your best.
say i will never be enough. that i turn to ash in your mouth. i am not as vast as you once thought. the sands of my body end just short of the horizon. let me float out of the window, slip under the door, boil over, tread water. i scrub your fingerprints from my crooks. cut my hair to the scalp. set fire to the things you touched. salt my doorways so you cannot enter. fill in what you dug from me. i forget the burn of your name, walk through you in the street, and you are gauzy and thin like cotton.