C A T H E R I N E O F A R A G O N A D D R E S S E S T H E S T O N E S
At the Priory of St. Frideswide, 1518
In spring our Mother hymned and swelled, her pearl
a captive prayer held safe ‘til darkest night.
Pilgrimage is hunger’s prayer, a barefoot
sop to need. So the sick are bled, and bleed.
Near the door I saw a bit of grass scraped
from weary feet. Fields turn green, orchards bloom
at home, and here the beggars’ hands uncrack
and bleed like pomegranates struck — my coins
their seeds. They pity me, their hollow queen.
My mothers all watched their sons die, too.
We bow our heads against the tomb and wait
for bone to show. Our gowns grow blacker still.
When I dress, nails sharp and clean (her nails)
will scrape this morning’s dust from my hair’s pale
part, lest tonight the king come near. I know —
he hunts in spring, to orphan fawns and gild
his royal table. With lordly death he glows,
and drinks my health with honeyed wine, I hear.
I knew him tender once.
O stones, I grow
faint. Yours is the mouth I taste, yours the flesh
my fingers trace, the heart I cannot break.
Yours the silence, cold against my teeth. Make
from this grit and my tongue a prayer, a seed
to burst and swell, a song of love and need.
H E R M E N E U T I C C H A O S J O U R N A L
The Jane Lumley Prize '15 : Honorable Mention
C A R O L Y N O L I V E R
Carolyn Oliver is a graduate of The Ohio State University and Boston University and lives near Boston with her family. Her work has also appeared in Midway Journal. Her website is carolynoliver.net.
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