Donna Vorreyer is the author of To Everything There Is (2020), Every Love Story is an Apocalypse Story (2016) and A House of Many Windows (2013), all from Sundress Publications. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Ploughshares, Waxwing, Poet Lore, Cherry Tree, Salamander, Harpur Palate, and other journals. She lives in the suburbs of Chicago where she serves as an associate editor for Rhino Poetry and hosts the monthly online reading series A Hundred Pitchers of Honey.
How I wanted to be a changed thing, my body
refusing to obey. This blessed body - not as in
consecrated, but as in irritated, as in there was
not a blessed thing I could do to make a child.
Stripped of its purpose, the body shifts, becomes
a husk for shame or pleasure, sometimes both
at the same time. Becomes a temple without
an altar, an empty arc of cold midnight sky.
This is my body, given for you.
How every blessed thing becomes othered—
a feather blessed with ink becomes pen
a canvas with pigment becomes a world
bread becomes a body, wine becomes blood
bodies inked and oiled to tell their stories
how one thing can always be another
how even a barren woman can be a mother
This is my blood, shed for you.
How the body changes in its decline. The cheeks sink to outline the skull, the eyes wide and wild. Robust muscles fade to frail. How the child can cradle the mother now, rock her in arms she bore. How the child can cradle the father now, soothe him with hands he kissed and held. How the priest blesses their foreheads while they still can speak. How morphine is placed on the tongue. The chalice a sponge of water pressed to unmoving lips.
The body on earth, a temple in ruins.
It should not need to be forgiven.