O LORD, when the Angel said Listen
when the Angel said Do not fall to the earth for anyone
we were already stained in glass.
A circle of black flies biting
our arrival. Scales scraped off of a fish.
Starved girls folded at a line from Leviticus.
This is how it happened: one day we looked outside
& the bloated bodies of frogs were fucking up the yard.
Our hands bled. We saw Rorschach blood in our wounds,
Pietà in egg yolks. There was a hope chest & a threshold
& a bridegroom—revoltingly pagan. We said
Bring us the coat-check ticket for our eyes.
Nothing was so underpaid as our attention.
If ghost, if whore, if virgin—same origin story:
because X was a face too lovely, Y was a corpse in the lake.
Our sisters said Wait. Our mothers said Stay the hell awake.
We bled on our white clothes—we bore them redly
to the table. Our fathers said Tell me, will you ever
feed me something that isn’t your own trouble?
We cast away stones. There was room at the inn.
There was time to be floated as witches.
When night came, an egg-moon slid over the steeple.
We stared at the blue yolk yawning in the fire.
Our Father. Who Art in Heaven.
There were men in the alley. We knew them by name.
They said they wanted to prove we were holy.
Your angel said Listen—
There are not vultures enough
in this world, there are not crows
to shoot out of the sky in a shaking black line.
Please, we’ve been trying
to say out loud the words for this—
to see You write it out red
in a fish-hooked curve. Have mercy—
Mouth of Poison Flowers: Speak.
Mouth of Asphodel—Say it.
From Brute by Emily Skaja. Copyright © 2019 by Emily Skaja. Used by permission of Graywolf Press.
Emily Skaja's debut poetry collection, Brute, was selected by Joy Harjo as the winner of the 2018 Walt Whitman Award, given by the Academy of American Poets.
Date Published: 2019-04-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/girl-saints