By Amanda Rachelle Warren
I am called to shame. The pastor to his affections.
When the faithful open their mouths,
veins pumping with praise, wet to speak,
it is midnight and danger that mingles with love.
And the deep seed of faith is a longing that spoken,
words gliding from the throat uncensored,
would disgrace them all.
That fierce burning settles in the pulse.
Little doors close, so small there. Done.
And one more sweet breakdown bursts forth
like a blossom twisting wet beneath my thumbs.
Or like a gathering of clouds, so low we inhale them.
Or that deep shudder swelling in the chest: press, press.
Oh, insides out everybody.
Scrap that surface which shines.
Or shapes you smooth as sea glass for the taking.
Look at that gleam fall away.
From weakness something subtle comes, but
I will never show you how tender
the skin I kiss on my own wrists. How
charming this shame.
Brother, this is not my life, or this is my life.
And it wants sheets of cold rain brim with ghosts.
And the windows down.
And absolutely blood.
Crossing that soundless baptismal river.
And we are food for angels.
We are food for many things.
Call the body what it is,
a scared and sacred machine, a patchwork of chemicals
held to the light to shine like stained glass, seaming.
Something is swelling to break,
and this machine so numb-tired, so stitched wrong.
Amanda Rachelle Warren's work has appeared in Borderlands, The Carolina Quarterly, Appalachian Heritage, Anderbo, and the Beloit Poetry Journal as well as other journals. Her chapbook Ritual no.3: For the Exorcism of Ghosts, was published by Stepping Stone Press in 2011. She is the 2017 recipient of the Nickens Poetry Fellowship from the South Carolina Academy of Authors. She teaches at the University of South Carolina Aiken with her colleague/partner Roy Seeger.