IN THE CONFESSIONAL, THE POET IS ASKED TO CONSIDER
THEIR YOUNGER SELF
& what do I have to say to her? That scrap of girlhood, dirty nails battle-ready? I’m too tired to worship at her softness or my spite. Too old for the engine whine of self-pity; this is not an atheism. A drowning & a drowning out
& what should I tell you, Father, Listener? That she knew what I know, that we stitched our backs to the wall for the same reason? Sharp-nosed immigrant blood reminding us of borders: There is grace, & there are you. There is woman, & here are you. That water under your skin doesn’t make you blessed. Not fooling anyone
& what should I have grown up to be? She tried. Parted our hair to the side. Let two boys throw love at her one stuck she thought it was a miracle. Hands under your skin don’t make you whole. We knew, she pretended. Sometimes I catch myself in the seas between sleep & waking with benedictions for him in my mouth. Not the first unwanted thing I’ve found there
& what good is perspective if the past is drowning? If all you can do is sink? Forward is for women, women have the grace to move. I breathe what gives me life & it chokes me. Ungrateful, I know. Our ancestors didn’t fight death for this indecision. There was rupture on the other side of the ocean too. A different kind maybe but she & I we aren’t new. God’s seen this mutation before
& who am I to talk about God? About either testament? I don’t belong here, this booth should never have sprouted in my skull. They were trying to kill us so we made a hiding place & now I think about Jesus & wonder when I am
& is it somewhere between history & hosanna? Right now or maybe always? There is water that rejects its own cycle, grows stagnant and bejeweled with plague. Too stuck to be sacred. I think she’s said all this before
& didn’t she die already? Everyone knows Christ wasn’t the only martyr. There is a story with nails in it. There is an absence you see but can’t feel. Women and womanhood always left behind, grief always a baptism
& where does that place me? In a sin that won’t ease, a rapture that can’t resurrect? Neither one much of a forwarding address. I throw myself at homes but I never stick. But mama. Women upon women who came before me, I know I broke the bloodline, but look. Witness this messy survival and tell me I’m not yours. Who am I to talk about God is Her child
& isn’t that enough? To be a stain too fierce to be washed away? I’m blood of Her blood of my blood. I’m saying the gospel came late so I made do. Pluralized so I could ritual myself. The weight of my name a trinity, too holy to be carried by just one pair of hands.
Alison Kronstadt (they/them/theirs & she/her/hers) is a writer, youth worker and anti-partner abuse advocate currently living in Boston. Their work has appeared or is forthcoming in voicemail poems, Cleaver Magazine’s “Life as Activism” series, and Bitch Magazine, among others. When not writing, she can be found as close to the water as possible. They wrote this poem on stolen Wampanoag, Massachusett, and Penacook land.