By Mary Karr
Before my first communion at 40, I clung
to doubt as Satan spider-like stalked
the orb of dark surrounding Eden
for a wormhole into paradise.
God has first formed me in the womb
small as a bite of burger.
Once my lungs were done
He sailed a soul like a lit arrow
To inflame me. Maybe that piercing
Made my howl at birth,
Or the masked creatures
Whose scalpel cut a lightning bolt to free me—
I was hoisted by the heels and swatted, fed
And hauled through rooms. Time-lapse photos show
My fingers grew past crayon outlines,
my feet came to fill spike heels.
Eventually, I lurched out to kiss the wrong mouths,
get stewed, and sulk around. Christ always stood
to one side with a glass of water.
I swatted the sap away.
When my thirst got great enough
to ask, a stream welled up inside;
some jade wave buoyed me forward;
and I found myself upright
In the instant, with a garden
inside my own ribs aflourish. There, the arbor leafs.
The vines push out plump grapes.
You are loved, someone said. Take that
and eat it.
Mary Karr (born 1955) is the Jesse Truesdell Peck Professor of English Literature at Syracuse University. She has published five volumes of poetry. Her three best-selling memoirs recount her “nervous breakthrough,” and “journey from blackbelt sinner and lifelong agnostic to unlikely Catholic.”
Dan Clendenin: email@example.com