Susan Cossette: “Magadelen with the Smoking Flame”

Magadelen with the Smoking Flame
-after Georges de la Tour

You see the polished skull
settled under my now-empty womb,
the books of scripture on the desk,
the unadorned wooden cross.

You see the leather scourge.
I am the perfect lover of Christ,
correcting myself daily,
now perfect penitent.

You will not see the red welts
on my back or upper thighs,
only remorse in lowered eyes.
Sweet burn, delectable wound.

The oily candle plays its tricks,
slim shafts of light on cave walls.
Peering into shadows,
I pay respect to the power of the dark.

My mind plays tricks on me.
Is it mother, laid out at solstice,
her face plump and purple,
the monsignor saying rosary?

Or something else drawn
out of the dark night of the soul,
longing for light.

About the Author: Susan Cossette lives and writes in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Author of Peggy Sue Messed Up, she is a recipient of the University of Connecticut’s Wallace Stevens Poetry Prize. A two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rust and Moth, The New York Quarterly, ONE ART, As it Ought to Be, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Amethyst Review, Crow & Cross Keys, Loch Raven Review, and in the anthologies Fast Fallen Women (Woodhall Press) and Tuesdays at Curley’s (Yuganta Press).

Image Credit: Georges de La Tour “Magdalene with the Smoking Flame” (1640) Image courtesy of Wikimedia

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