Novena: A Persona Poem


Just once, hold me between your fingertips
when you don’t need something. Pass over me
and say my name on your way to salvation.
Feel the worn wood of my wounds,
the heavy broken dreams
and dead names that have passed
through me. Let my insatiable thirst for tragedy
fill your mouth and throat with anything
other than those words. Again and again –
your fingers crawl over these rounded edges
that roll off the thumb like a tiny boulder.

My family, all ten of us,
hang suspended, unable to reach out
and hold one another or say how we feel
because our mouths are already so full of your fruit
and so full of your grace.

For the third time this week,
you let that hollow carcass of a prayer
spill from your mechanical mouth
and fill me with your selfish desires
cloaked in devotion.

There was only one who loved me right.
Your mother’s mother.
Picked me up and cradled me in silence.
Even put me around her neck.
Let me swing and sway all day long
next to her heart.
Fell asleep in her hands like lovers do
and got wrapped in her soft neck all through the night.
Became part of those hands –
until the warmth fled out of them,
and I was pried from her stiff fingers
and handed to you.

All I want is to be worn again,
to feel someone’s heat penetrate me
all day and all night,
to teach me how to spit these words
into the right place
because I’ve never known where they are supposed to go.

But you keep me in that old drawer
until something goes wrong or runs out.
Keep your ‘kingdom comes’ and ‘now and forevers’
and watch how you feel when your decade is never complete
and the sky laughs in your face
because I am the one prayer you will never say again.
I will hoard every syllable in my gut,
digest your recitations like a black hole of sacrilege
until this body is a dense sphere of atoms
that drink your light by the gallon.

Saw me open and you will find names and wishes
stacked on top of one another
like forgotten letters with no postage.
I want tragedy to occur on every day of every month
so you can truly know desperation.
After all, we both could not exist without sin.

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