Spring 1989 • Vol. XI No. 2 PoetryApril 1, 1989 |

Sanctity

Everything, he said, is sacred. I never knew when he was serious— the poses, the rhetoric—he lectured his son, me, on backbone—as though he were flashing his prick. (My suitors admire theirs in the looking-glass—in my eyes—I express awe; they preen, I adore, hiding my smile in my veil.) Once I asked him about it— I was ever so young—he was my god— in jest—I should have known better. That was the first time he walked out— I lost him for years, our son at my breast.       He came back with welts, wounds—wherever I touched him he bled, as though he'd been flayed or carved. Wouldn't tell. One night, I kissed each of his wounds, lapped his rich blood, my lips raw with hunger and hurt, dressed his sweet skin in tears, his stigmata smelling of frankincense, my hair (it was down to my waist then) a web or a shroud. For the first time he wept. Through the night. At my breast. Never spoke of backbone again, never lectured on sanctity. And I was so

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