Nic Alea

the following poems reflect the relationship between 12th Century abbess Hildegard von Bingen & her confidant, Richardis von Stade

The Two Nuns


It was within you that I found me

and then I became everywhere,


in a moment you were a magnitude of colors

and we swam and sang and rocked

until our knees crumbled in the cold water.


Within my prayers I kept you safe and wondered how

we’ll grow old in our time, our years of difference,

my grief and your solitary terror of loneliness,


here, I could come home unto you,

pull at your skin until it fit around my bones,

this is how I grew into an old woman


examining death with a small microscope

where under the lens the light grew brighter

and my iris’ became bleached by the sight.


Oh, how I longed

for the tall grass that swept along your ankles

as we dodged fleas and naysayers


and I plucked feathers from your strawberry hair

and met your eyes so carnivorous

that I drank and cured my crisis with a long breathy wail.


Soon after, I took to rubbing glass rosary beads

until they shattered like a most fragile bird,

then you, as you are, appeared in water,


an apparition exhilarating me with fright,

charm floating endlessly through me,

my jaw quenched with subtle flavor,


the epiphany reckons quite easily,

it is, or it isn’t,

we either fall in love or we don’t.



Hildegard Writes to Richardis (Again)


To all the girls I’ve loved before:


The ones with roses for hips

& resin coating the fleshy meat of thighs,


when you leave,


you leave me with a burden in my gums,

a small wafer of exaltation, overreacting, I ache.


Why do you call out my lords name

when you are in the same breath begging for mine?


I move slowly down the path of the righteous,

inching the tunic from your cool shoulders,


the stained fabric drops to the floor

and you release a hymn from the lowest point in your throat.


If skin had been made sacred not before

then here it becomes a relic,


amongst echoes off the mossy walls of the chamber

holy deity or false god, I fumble madly in my worship


I light candles with my tongue,

I light candles with forefinger, middle, and ring,


I collect your sweat to wear in a vial around my neck,

if only to punish myself in your honor.


Nic Alea is a queer writer with a fellowship from the Lambda Literary Foundation and was voted one of SF Weekly’s “Best Writers without a Book.” Nic has work featured in journals such as Muzzle Magazine, the Paris American, decomP, Reservoir, BOAAT, and others. Originally from California, they currently live in Narrm/Melbourne, Australia.

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