I used to love a boy who

could render fat from any source
until shining, liquid gold would emerge
hissing the hymn of its soul

but bound my mouth to muted

could carve the flesh from
a cold, dead thing, terror frozen on its face
stretch organ meats to abundance, fattening the thousands

but tried to fettle the excess from this figure

could pour pink wine
and reveal living water
mystify the masses in the shift to drunkenness

but left me to drown in the shallow brook of want

he tried to confine me to this table
crush my freedoms with his gospel
tried to present me with a plate of impotent fruit
and left me begging for sustaining nourishment

collapsed and starving
scoring my own flesh until I screamed aloud
just to be sure I still could
my lungs begged to abandon the details of breathing
waiting to die in the scorching field
vulture’s shadow my only shade

salvation remained obscure until
I was baptized by my own holy tears

I watched my soul escape this skin of subservience
admired the full hips that allow this vessel to carry divine life
let my mouth gorge itself on the taste of my own lips
studied the scriptures these stretch marks reveal

found the sacrament in my own hand

Kari Lynch writes and teaches in North Texas.