This selection, chosen by guest editor Samantha Duncan, is from Slide to Unlock by Julie E. Bloemeke, released by Sibling Rivalry Press in 2020.
Statue Prayer at Fifteen
Mother, in my world, virginity is defined by loss. Admission: an easy litmus. As soon as I open to confession, their touches turn from want to sister. But here I am on my knees, still in this jaded light, your static mouth jeweled in the cut of votive flame. What if I believe this is my way? That for once I have found the diadem of no as a kind of salvation, at last a place where I am heard? What if I think of your face smiling in yes? When I whisper in the thresh of desire, what if I pray to hold, wait for the one true found? I cannot bear their eager lips, their breath heavy at the chapel of want, the way they try their hands at the altar of my legs. I soften to their kisses, yes, the rare sweetness of their words when they are without motive. Someone has painted a heart on your hand. Someone has touched you with gold. I tip my forehead to your cracked hem, hardened in its line. My knees grow numb with leaning. I whisper up to you: Oh Mary. Oh marry. Oh merry. Is it all a trinity of trickery, a prayer of persuasion, of false faith? And still the problem of this star, crossed over my body, forever this burden we call light.
Julie E. Bloemeke (she/her) is the 2021 Georgia Author of the Year Finalist for Poetry. Her debut full-length collection Slide to Unlock was chosen as a 2021 Book All Georgians Should Read. Co-editor of Let Me Say This: A Dolly Parton Poetry Anthology (Madville Publishing, 2023), she has also served as co-editor for the Dolly Parton tribute issue of Limp Wrist magazine. Winner of the 2022 Third Coast Poetry Prize and a finalist for the 2020 Fischer Poetry Prize, her work has appeared in numerous anthologies and publications including Writer’s Chronicle, Prairie Schooner, Nimrod, and others. An associate editor for South Carolina Review and a Virginia Center for the Creative Arts fellow, she is also a freelance writer and editor. A proud native of Toledo, she currently lives in Atlanta.
Samantha Duncan is the author of four poetry chapbooks, including Playing One on TV (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2018) and The Birth Creatures (Agape Editions, 2016), and her work has appeared in BOAAT, SWWIM, Meridian, and The Pinch. She lives in Houston.
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