From the notebook: Magnificat

{An Advent poem, the moment after annunciation, scrawled in journal in bed in Pennsylvania childhood bedroom with sleeping husband beside, 1 am}







My soul doth magnify that which
now is encased
in it. My soul doth–
When did I open my mouth? It hangs ajar.

My soul doth
and scream–contained in pin-point eternity,
the knife of this moment,
I’ll never leave this room again without being torn in two.
And my spirit doth
hang open like an empty bag,
the fruit having all tumbled out
when over my shoulder I saw
something out of place–moon and stars in full day,
a thick shadow, crack in
the floor where I tumbled too.
I am alone, I am undone, divided by euphoria,
sliced by my own unblinking answer to–

Oh, please come back. I am the handmaiden of
I am that I am that, please. I’ll say yes
a thousand times, don’t mind my trembling if
you’ll only come back.
Regard me more. It hangs ajar.

I’m sitting in the dirt.
I’m sweaty with colors behind my
eyelids and terrible ringing in
my ears and I’ll feel this way forever,
how could I not? An apple, bruised,
rolled far under the table and it’s all I
can do not to crawl to retrieve it and
put it back, to put all of them back
and then crawl out the door with
them–stand up and run.

Or leave the apples to rot. What do I sing?
Where do I write it down, what is there to say with my dry mouth, thick tongue?
Skin soft and inside-out, unrecognizable, glowing.
When did I open my mouth?

My soul, my soul, my soul, my soul doth
open wide, and I don’t know any other songs.
I’ve already forgotten the me I’ve been
because I can’t be anymore. This is
where I live now, in
this body full of fire.

I sit still on the floor the rest of the
afternoon, practice breathing, watch
the sun disappear, see a candle flickering
on the table, a candle I did nothing to light.


(Study for a Panel, 1890/1897, Charles Sprague Pearce.)

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