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25| Fragment of Joan

Rachel Danielle Peterson

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...Confess? It's easy to catch man's middle.
When he gazes, sees God Behind her eyes,
that he'll truss. Every time. Shorn anew, I heed
metal as you doff violet seems. Obscure, it is, skin
beneath small-clothes and trousers that decide robes,
or armor, what raiment. Who owns the pride
from such mastery of stitches? Not the stitcher
nor her sons possess the holey, stained shift beneath
all gear and trim, what nuns discovered when they
stripped : lice, maiden-head pried out by their long,
probing fingernails, horns, I say. Goat, ewe, you'll
savage with each bleat, drum, of honest heresy.
Give me the cups. My lips fill this chalice,
taste sweet brandy-wine. I am a vessel of blood,
sup deepest when snot-mouthes, gorged,
they think me kind, and Communion will bind
bride and groom with celestial linen, yet I'll
yoke you to such Friction. You blush, sir.
Take the cups! What need I for wine? There?
Hear that?The drums come for me like thunder.
I see you through water . . . maybe? Who can tell
what the rain will wash. Fear my pelt, Sir!
The soul is always some virgin that limbers
your holy even when her thighs startle like
wild squab. Tender or insatiable, your pry
toward Eternity, to stave off Death, will fail.
So blanch like drowned eels in heat, I
won't deny that Heavenly, helmed, Trumpeter,
heedless of the colour. Visages Burnished, Awful,
Stricken, Horned are The Faces, The Lord.
They hate you worse than a younger sibling,
a child-less rut. Me? the worst of it. Secret Eye.
Can't touch even if you cry, O Terrible Muse!
How could I leave you to tremble, to hobble
through each pastoral scene? Doterring fool,
here She stands, your Mother and your Maid.
Vengeful Muse. God Beneath You. Sing Me.
I'll know you by your lilt, your tongue, To The Virgin!
To Her Sword! I'll loosen My Breath, friends,
torch every goddamn skirt in England —

Born in Bloody Harlan, Kentucky, Rachel Danielle Peterson teaches on the island of Saipan. A poem from her manuscript is featured in Literary Imagination. More poems can be found in Arsenic Lobster, Midwestern Gothic, Her Royal Majesty, and The Los Angeles Review. “Elegy of the Gun,” published by LAR, was just nominated for Best New Poets, and Cleft of Sky, was chosen as a Semi-finalist for the Trio Award for For First/Second Book by Trio House Press

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