This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Stephanie Erdman, is from The Book of Crooked Prayer by Marcella Remund, released by Finishing Line Press in 2020.
Content warning for incest and pedophilia
patron saint of the mentally ill
Dymphna, in fitful dreams I find you shivering
in rowan and ferns along the Blackwater
river, wreathed in St. John’s wort
& anointed with yellow-rattle,
half-starved and wrapped in a celtar
cinched at the waist with an oak rosary,
humming strains of your mother’s brief
lullaby. But your father was a chieftain
and knew the magic, found you anyway.
Grief or madness drove him to finger
your small bones for signs of her
in the curve of your emerging breasts,
the winged cup of your pelvis, your
silky down, and you a fugitive
child with courage enough to keep locked
that garden gate, though he found you
again, sealed the gate forever. Forsaken
daughter, in my own trembling delusion
I am your Síle na Gigh. We offer up
a novena to our Mother and for nine days
I give you this blessing too—my stone lap
cushioned with heather & moss, pillow
for your bruised and worried brow.
Marcella Remund is an Omaha, Nebraska native and a transplant to South Dakota, where she taught at the University of South Dakota. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals. Her chapbook, The Sea is My Ugly Twin, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2018. Her first full-length collection, The Book of Crooked Prayer, was published by Finishing Line in 2020.