Publication News: “Transubstantiation”

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Musings on Writing and Life.

I can’t remember how I came up with the title of this poem. Perhaps I wanted to invoke the notion in Christian theology about the conversion of the body and blood of Jesus Christ into homely bread and wine. In a poem about suicide—specifically death by hanging—why would I have dared to invoke the Eucharist at all? Was I playing on the sound-chime of the words Eucharist and Icarus when I wrote it. Stranger things have crept into my poetry work over the years. Any of my original motivations for writing and then titling this poem as I did are now, unfortunately, long gone. And this is another one of the poems from my first years back in the poetry saddle that I suspect I would write very differently today. I do like that I decided upon couplets as a container for what this poem is about—a couple, one gone, one unable to fix or repair or went so broken between them. I am posting this on the 21st anniversary of the “he” in the poem’s death.

“Transubstantiation” was originally published in the anthology, VoiceCatcher 4, in 2009. It was later included in my poetry collection, Every Door Recklessly Ajar.


It’s the slow, cumulative suffering she carries
into her dreams, oven mitts too thin to curry

the burn from her hands. Whenever he’s back
from the dead, she can’t get near his back,

blistering under patchwork, lost in the curled
bone-cage of a bird. Ever now, she conjures

that day, his hanging in that tree only to flee
from him to brand-new men in Mississippi,

all-white faces leering in the rabble below.
Until she decides — he is better left one faux

Icarus flown afar while the sun still enchants,
his dance slippers soft-shoeing whitecaps.

What bobbing! The wind’s too harsh
to quell a flotilla of question marks.

The public domain image above is a collage using elements from the painting “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus” by Pieter Brueghel about the myth of Icarus and Daedalus. The artist is unknown.

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