Millstone

by Kathleen Vibbert
Pen Shells
Honorable Mention, October 2007
Judged by E. Ethelbert Miller


On the steps of St. James,
I’m a millstone.
A love poem. A Quaker lady.

Rare birds all around:
tails float toward the sun
with an ease that makes me envious.

I leave my idols
outside as Mass begins.
Smell the incense; resist
the urge to taste holy water

take my rosary from its convenient pocket
hammer down prayers from between my knuckles.
Communion cuts my tongue with its straight razor.

Stained glass swabs my spirit like rubbing
alcohol.
I leave my sins inside, emerge like oil
from an olive sack.

The street is dark.
My bones catch on my clothes.
A night heron waits.

In heels, I hadn’t counted on the cobblestone:
The radiant sections of motor oil and rain
shapes into the heads of saints.
How can I walk over them once more?



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