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Apologia of a Lapsed Catholic

I stand before you, a godless woman
and you think I am naked, but I am not.
I once kissed your god of the grey desert
with the kisses of my mouth, my blood
turned all to wine. My hell is simple,
an interruption. And heaven?
This slow pressing on your faith
until it sags. Consider my love
for your Bronze Age god as containing
all the love I know. Listen, I lost it all,
everything you have still, I heeded
the woman with truly black hair
who insists on the body’s spontaneous
relevance. And I am not alone, no,
the priest, gathering his purple robes,
and you, crawling across my bed,
and St. Rose in her mattress of needles
and knotted ropes share in this knowledge
of a bodily love that made me faint in church,
staring up at Jesus-golden-on-cross, lock-
kneed— my eyes rolled back, and I woke up
feeling deeply refreshed. The body, understand,
the body matters most, I dare you to forgive me
this blasphemy while my love for you,
that most of all, that triumphant banner
unreadable in any wind, but chokeberry
red, lake of fire red, that still stands.

Chelsea Kerwin lives in Baltimore and has lived in PA, DC, London, NC, KY, AL, SC, and OH. She can be found at home, at the museum, or at the dog park.