Invocare La Misericordia

Invocare La Misericordia

Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. 

Blessèd art thou amongst women.


She hears an infinitesimal flutter

of pages from an open testament,

as if it too wanted to close itself,

shield from the shush of his disrobing,

shroud its sacred script from discarded

hand-stitched vestments.

She turns her face from his—

shifts her gaze from ceiling to wall

and fixes upon the holy one

nailed on a cross of wood,

while she is fixed and nailed

on a beastly bed,

an initiate of secret ceremony—

the transubstantiation of girl to whore.


and blessèd be the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.


She feels her baby grow

despite the cold of her dormitory bed

where her name is not known in the dark.

Despite the barred windows, locked doors,

walls built high with bricks of shame,

and crowned with broken glass—

and her hair shorn.

In spite of the steaming, the scrubbing, the ironing,

in spite of the mending, the folding, the packing,

despite the endless embroidery crafted 

with Magdalene-mangled fingers, each stitch stitched 

in spiteful silence—friendships forbidden.

Her baby grows away from her

on a land she’ll never see—

at wrenching time, her proffered prayers 

fallen on the ears of a deaf god.

She had not a prayer of mercy from the Sister’s heart,

calloused as her rosary-ridgèd knees.


Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.


She hears her time run out seven decades hence.

Not even the summoning seraphim

shall catch her breath of testimony

pass the stitching of her lips.

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