Complex Martyr


Complex Martyr

The slit was a tight fit,
still, seeking sainthood,
she served her heart on a silver salver.

Verisimilitude concluded with the platter–
for unlike Lucy (or Agatha, for that matter)
who had eyes (areolae) to spare–where
did the beat go
, her chest moaned
now that it had, in the wound, a mouth to intone–
even so, her belief in the blessing, like the bleeding,
would not stop.


Drafty poem for With Real Toads, micro poetry prompt by the wonderful Kerry O’Connor.  I have been very slow returning visits but will get there.  The painting of St. Agatha above (whose breasts were amputated in a christian martyrdom) is by Lorenzo Lippi.  Process Note – St. Lucy and St. Agatha are both Christian (medieval) saints who lost their eyes/breasts as punishment for being believers (though performed some miracle of not dying from their initial punishments.)  They are often depicted in renaissance paintings, Lucy with her eyes on a platter, Agatha, as above. 

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14 Comments on “Complex Martyr”

  1. Susan Says:

    Very strange to self-mutilate, even to give the heart a voice beyond a beat!

  2. Snakypoet (Rosemary Nissen-Wade) Says:

    Complex indeed! Gruesome – and yet I like that you have written it so matter-of-factly as well as, in way, tenderly.

  3. I think this is beyond complex.. it’s gruesome and sad.. and imagine she was only 15 year old.

  4. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    What a powerful and chilling image: the mutilation of women cries out against nature. Your poem reminded me too, in this breast cancer awareness month, how many women must suffer this ordeal in order to preserve their lives.

  5. hedgewitch Says:

    This is one of those complex poems that is layered with a logic-defying symbolism; that is, a dreamlike illogic, which is often the most truthful kind, riddles this, for me anyway. That round circular loss, of vision, of feminine nurturing and seduction, of heart itself, to some supposedly higher cause–a baffling thing to me, but very popular in medieval times, when perhaps we were a bit closer to the mystical–what a fascinating piece this is, k.

  6. claudia Says:

    oh heck – makes my heart ache for those women
    and also in awe what they were willing to suffer for their faith

  7. Jim Says:

    Very interesting to me, k. Thank you too for the post note. Being Protestant I am not in loops to study many of the later-than-the-Bible saints. A few U.S. saints I know somewhat.
    You have prompted me to read more of Saint Agatha. I do hope the baby survived.

  8. derelict june Says:

    This is incredible!!! That painting is quite creepy, though. 🙂

  9. hypercryptical Says:

    Cleverly writ and complex indeed. Strange what we are prepared to do to ourselves and others…
    Anna :o]

  10. A painful experience which you do well to convey. Thanks.

    Greetings from London.

  11. M Says:

    despite my years in catholic school i had not learned of this type of martyrdom until now. the power dynamic: how women were (and continue) to not just accept, but support, the premise that to demonstrate fealty to a male god, she needs also to submit to the human men who claim to speak for “him”. ~

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