blackbird online journal spring 2002 vol.1 no. 1



National Poetry Month

Everyone’s writing about sacred hearts,
souls as flowers, resurrection. Since that’s the theme,

here’s the story of my first communion,
when I was thrilled to wear the beaded veil

and bridal dress with floral overlay
of lace my mother stayed up nights to sew,

as she did my costumes on Halloween.
I woke that day with strep. During mass my body

burned, to make room for God, the fever said,
to purify a space for Him to live.

When the wafer touched my tongue, I gagged.
In my mouth the body of Christ.

I made believe it was a petal
from the white roses given by the nuns.

I pressed my lips against their ruffled mouths,
but knew he hung above me, bones peeking

through thousands of openings, skin like lace.
Down the aisle I swooned with our blood.

It would be ten years before I fell away,
as it's called, God mythical as Snow White

rising from death. In middle-of-night dark
I woke and ate Easter candy to soothe

my throat. Wine still stinging my tongue, I stood
in nightgown and veil, whispering the rosary,

arms raised, holding out only the white
jelly beans and ginger ale as offering,

while the moon poured over the dogwood tree
outside. I was one of those blossoms now.

I understood his was another name
for infinity, like falling down

a flower’s throat to live as winter, alone,
before the green, before the white. 

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