Dean Symmonds

Holy Women


The last time I was in this body,
God crept in my ear and men
crept in my prison cell—
so they burned me at the stake,
just nineteen. From ashes
rose again this body, eyes gray,
plump thighs white, waist
whittled by a childhood
of passing stares—every
pair of eyes a paring knife
culling its pound of flesh, until now
I look in the mirror and all I see
is a saint’s swollen chest covered
in leaden handprints. Blood
pools at my knees each time
I walk the streets—each time I pass
his house, the man who embalms
his fingers in fool’s gold
and wraps them around girls’
throats, holds them so tightly
they feel like salvation, marvels
at their soft flesh and weak
bones. He is a tiger declawed—
he drags his kills from the play-
ground to his den
by his teeth. He is desperate
for forgiveness, penitent
even as he delves into his plaything,
molds me in his own image
like a false god.


The first time I was in this body,
I dwelled nude in a serpentine
garden—now I’ve learned the art
of hiding behind Mary’s blue cloak,
searching for God’s plans for me
in the stitches; watching a supernova,
closing my eyes, and pulling pieces
of myself from darkness and stardust—
teeth and fat, hair and swansong, holiness
and wholeness no tiger can touch,
no mortal can see.


Dean Symmonds is an award-winning upcoming poet. Zir work has received Gold and Silver Keys from the Scholastic writing competition and has been nationally recognized by the Sprayregen Foundation. Zir poems appear in national literary magazines like Élan and [empath].

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