Three Poems by Audrey Spina

La Pietà to be published in the online magazine, They Call Us, in early January 2021.

Museum Entrance

Two ancient lovers hold hands
as if they’ll dissolve away

from each other like heated sugar;
a woman holds herself, rocking

a crying baby slung on her
chest like a gold medallion.

A glass door holds us
together. We slide in & out

of its slits like wind. I catch
my breath folding inward, 

a linen sheet sucking
at a violent breeze. I am

my own Virgil here. Upon entering:
a girl escapes her rapist by rooting

her fingers into spears, pearl
of her breast bones cracked

to bark: warrior shield; Apollo
his lips half parted like a lemon,

breath souring at the site of her
unexpected, switching meat; 

a petal of lilac cloth, pierced
with a bullet hole, a jewel of blood

stain still preserved. We are quick
to look for holes in each other, 

skin rips catching eyes like glints 
of silver; a girl on fire watches 

the way people exhibit her
lineage, strung coral beads, 

red and angular, like broken 
fingers, lace up an unlit case.

Upon entering, I wonder 
of the collected grief cupped 

in each gallery: we eagerly 
slide in & out of its slits 

like wind, untethered 
beings.

La Pietà

Michelangelo, La Pietà, 1498-1499, Marble, 174 cm x 195 cm, St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City

Like all good mothers, she loved her son enough
                                      to hold him at her breasts in death,
his bare flesh receding

back into her own womb, absorbing. I read there is solace here,
                                       a perfect splitting of life echoed
in the divots of the mother,

the folds of her careful Carrera skin, gorged like little mouths
                                      that swallow her own flesh back again.
I notice her strained fingers,

a hand clutched on his back, splayed fat, a tiger’s paw pressing
                                       softly into the earth, the other pointing

southward, an invitation for our eyes

to feast on her child and his sunken ribs: We are eager
                                     to eat a body dead,
recycle a soul into our blood

pluck bones to pick our own teeth.
                                    Michelangelo must have thought so:
he made Mary

look like buttered linen, her son a sweet treat. Curators claim
                                   he idolised her as youthfulness, a symbol
of incorruptible purity, like a lamb

before its slaughter, whiteness so bright you’ll forget its blood
                                      is blood and not cherry syrup, its throat slashed
and dripping slowly

into the bottom of a metal bucket. But I wonder how pure we think
                                      of Mary when she was made by men:
their minds quick to synch

our hips, dull our throats from blades to blunts.
                                     I bet Mary yelled and cried and fumed
and danced, licked oil

off her weather-beaten hands, curled her tongue back
                                behind the wall of her teeth clenched like a fist. 

I wonder if upon learning of her fervent and swelling belly
                                she tipped her head back and ripped open 

the earth with a chagrin fist, pitying herself?

Stone Devils

In winter, I wash the salt
from my hair to hold the ocean
in my palms once again.

& I remember July:
that crooked neck foe
begging for me to bloom

my red & bloodied petals
into the gasping sun, naked
star who remembers 

its own breath is one breath
away from destruction. Like his,
my mouth is two stones

cracking together. I speak
words only in its violent echo,
that sharp sound birthed

somewhere between anger
& fear. In July, he & I,
visit the museum, I think

to see our metamorphosis
from soft creatures to devils,
like the ones stone carved

into the cloister columns,
holding up an entire cathedral,
their snarled mouths open

& screaming, yet silent,
like they forget the prayer.
I already know it

one has his hands all over
a slivered throat,
another traipses a body

from hook and chain,
one will soon learn
to swallow its young. In time,

we all become our own
monsters: we retrieve again
& again the likeness of earth,

find solace in its amber breath,
only to forget its making.

About The Author

Audrey Spina is currently a graduate assistant at Bridgewater State University in
Massachusetts, where she is a candidate for a Master of Arts in English this fall. She
holds a BA in Art History and English from Wheaton College, Massachusetts. Her work
has appeared or is forthcoming in North Dakota Quarterly, Another New Calligraphy,
The Graduate Review, They Call Us, Sublunary Review, and Babe Lincoln.

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