When his arms enclose her there is always
a hurricane surge, like a child bewailing
the catastrophe of an eternally shattered vase.
She inhales deep penance in his hugs
as if the three hail marys at sunrise merely reverse
last night’s circling sins ―the hugs reserved
for darker, denser things. Engulfed, she wonders
for which fault he seeks pardon. She’d choose, of course
acts the Magdalene might approve: His fall
from red rose grace. The midnight strays.
Their barefoot vows buried in backstair sheets.
His tighter, longer embraces glazed with much more
are for god-gaps harder to excuse: The bruise.
The belt used behind henchman doors. Even on days
of rest. Each time he lets go, the window to sanctify shuts
closed. She whispers amen, a heaviness
sinking, twisting harder around her chest.
Anna Teresa Slater is a high school teacher from Iloilo, Philippines, and a postgraduate student in Creative Writing at Lancaster University. Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in a variety of print and online journals, as well as in anthologies by Kasingkasing Press and Hedgehog Poetry Press.