bernadette I

The first vision was in my hands.

Light hummed and I touched my palms together

As I had been taught to pray.

A current ran through me,

trembled the kindling on the ground.

And she appeared, not before me,

But inside me,

A tugging at my heart, a vine at my feet.

She was the rustle in the branches,

The upturned earth,

The silence.

Why would light appear here,

where the rubbish collects,

the detritus of being human,

the waste that even the poor do not want?

Why would light appear to me,

instead of someone who could speak it?

These were questions I did not ask.

My name was the call I ignored.

Instead, I stood at the mouth of the cave

And felt her ripple in my blood,

a forgotten dare,

so small and vast,

like a wing that closes over a broken heart,

or a song that gets caught in the lung.

I was, in that moment, the swallow.

Cloud, moving,

A wisp of gauze lodged in the barren rose bush.

The world tipped open inside me.

I touched my own skirts,

The heat from my skin an iron

That steamed the fabric,

Not of me, but through me,

A sacred fire, the pulse of life.

My eyes met the petals on her shoes,

Her feet as delicate as the dragonfly,

No pressure where she stood.

The blue she wore spun at my throat,

pried my mouth open.

In her hands she held a promise.


That night,

alone in the dark,

I pressed my hands to my eyes.

My sister cried from hunger.

I dreamed a world of breath and bread.

And I could see.