God, did you have to walk gingerly
after giving birth to me
Had you grown heavy with the weight
of my becoming
I sealed my fate with my yes—
soul sanctified, body broken
I am the Lord’s servant
The name they dropped upon my face
With water, in the country church,
Is finished using now...
Maybe I am just a golden thread
on God’s spindle,
tethered from within.
Burning the candle on both ends
she does not dream anymore
except of dishes and stitches so
it seems her work never ends...
I. The angels stood guard like the hollyhocks
In my garden: swaying in the wind, yet
Immobile. A portal had opened, how they knew not...
Why should anyone die a sacrifice
when living blood flows in me
poured out and refreshed each moontide?
For weeks, I tried to spy a nesting pair
through a mounted white pipe;
peered at moss-padded sticks lodged
in the crown of a longleaf pine.
You are electric
waltzing aware of privilege
storing that excess
energy in masculine swagger
Worship is no more
Than the gentle bow of the branch
Jonah would laugh,
at this miracle
These grew and became works of art.
Reared and fostered by my own hands.
But these were not my literal children.
Fresh out of high school, a novice in a shortened habit
scoured remote hollers, visited coal camps, argued scrip...
Hail, darling, full of grace
Half grown, half girl, all of eighteen
That night I made pilgrimage to your trailer
Pale, sweaty, stringy blonde hair
Framing your sapphire eyes.
Young woman, boo-boo healer,
songwriter, wonderful comforter,
mighty good, everlasting Mama,
peasant of peace,
filled with grace and grit
I will not cobble together
a defense of myself
with lines from your holy book.
Manoah’s wife was one of those women / with closed wombs who inhabit pages / of the Bible, women like Sarah and Elizabeth, / too old to conceive, Rachel and Hannah, / who also yearned for children...
Luke secondhand remembers harshly / Overlooked Martha: upset, anxious, aggressive, / distracted, troubled, bothered, encumbered, / fretting, fussing, busy, missing...
I see the shape of the Alef and the shape of the Lamed / I see the shape of the final Tzadi and the shape of the Hay / I see the shape of your Nose and the shape of your Hands
We are conjure women,
we who traverse portals opened by ancestral song,
we who dream the dreams and speak the tongues
of lands we have never seen.
Maryam is giving birth
Her face is sweaty like a laborer,
like a marathon runner
God is her Doula massaging
the small of her back with a tennis ball
If Jesus were married
it would help explain why
he valued women higher than his contemporaries
and risked his life to go against church teachings