You, creature, laughed at life,
rollicked in bed, gave birth to
fourteen children and a genre.
You yearned for less, knew the blackness of
the months post-partum, men’s lack
of care. Saved by your visions, you bought
your chastity, pacted with your husband
under the cross; changed your wide bed for
the uncertainty of foreign linens. Ecstatic pilgrim, your
tears were rivers that traversed continents.
You hit all the hotspots, bent knee to every saint,
insisted on your holiness. Creature, society doubted,
locked you up, but your heart strengthened in
solitude. Unfettered, unlettered, you bent men’s
fingers to the page, knew the value of your words.
How we read them, dream
of a heart beyond bearing.
*Highly Commended in Manchester Cathedral Competition 2015, and printed in their prize booklet.
Despite being certified as disabled at age 16, Jennifer A. McGowan has published poetry and prose prolifically on both sides of the Atlantic, including in The Rialto and Pank. She has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and been highly commended in many competitions. Jennifer’s chapbooks are available from Finishing Line Press; her first collection, The Weight of Coming Home, is from Indigo Dreams Publishing. Her website is http://www.jenniferamcgowan.com.