- To the Trans Woman Visiting Holy Cross Monastery for a Week, and: I Pray Hard for Feathers
We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long for the day when we will put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing.—2 Corinthians 5:2
Levity of skirt in a roomful of men, large-knuckled gripof the altar to steady a swish of hips, you teach meto listen when our bodies persist in the midstof Great Silence. Who is it, exactly, that calls you
to this place? Is it God or a group of monksdraped in robes, psalms sung in gentle high criesat Compline? Or like me do you seek peacea soundless space where you don’t have to be
what everyone thinks you should be.You can just pray. At Vespers todaywe heard the monks chanting As it wasin the beginning, it is now and ever shall be
and I wondered if I would always remainbeneath the blinds of someone else’s body—jeans that don’t quite fit my hips, tender crampin the lower back as we lean forward to receive [End Page 153]
the blessing of water. I want to be holy, to silenceflawed flesh into submission the way I tried to pryaway pleasure when it came knocking between my legsworld without end. Amen. Amen. But when
I look at you across the pew you remindme instead to praise God for knees. Praisefor the caress of hemmed edge of dresson calf. Praise on high for earwax and sty
the very thing of wigs, wisping forth the wearer’s hair.Praise for one-armed grandmothers, arthritisin the thumb. Praise days with too many skirts.Praise even when there are none.
Praise the body not lain across the altar of somewell-meaning patriarch. Praise allergies and wheelchairs.Praise the time I walked the woods in penitenceand found you already there, hair in the wind.
Praise silk bras and breasts that don’t fit them.Praise bedrest and acne. Praise blisters, stentsthe scars that remain. Praise wooden kneelersthat recall the pain of injury. Praise the healing
of cataracted eyes, the wide-eyed surpriseof palms smoothed against oversized thighs till we risein resurrection glory and our amorous sighs becomelullabies we mime to this world of the worn:
This is my body, and it is not broken. [End Page 154]
I PRAY HARD FOR FEATHERS
Mornings at the monastery, breakfastis silent, save your gentle clink of spoonagainst bowl and mine against coffee mug stirring.
The Hudson, too, is silent, savethe precative wrens. At daybreak monks layhands on you, and I pray hard
for feathers. During yesterday’s storm, a bargedocked at shore unmoored its mournfulhorn, warning birds, perhaps forlorn
in holler for fog and you, bathed in rainwith moleskin pages heavying wetat the curl. When we can speak again
you coo about string theory, the mysteriesof nests, the monk who said he’d prayfor you. Sometimes, the birds dance so close
I can reach out
I can let go. [End Page 155]
Rebecca Lauren lives in Philadelphia and serves as managing editor of Saturnalia Books. Her writing has been published in Mid-American Review, Prairie Schooner, Southeast Review, and the Cincinnati Review, among others. Her chapbook, The Schwenkfelders, won the Keystone Chapbook Prize and was published by Seven Kitchens Press in 2010. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and is the recipient of an Academy of American Poets award. email@example.com