The Blessed Mother Complains to the Lord Her God on the Abundance of Brokenness She Receives

By Mary Karr b. 1955 Mary Karr
Today I heard a rich and hungry boy verbatim quote
all last night’s infomercials — an anorectic son
who bought with Daddy’s Amex black card
the Bowflex machine and Abdomenizer,
plus a steak knife that doth slice
the inner skin of   his starving arms.
Poor broken child of   Eve myself,
to me, the flightless fly,
the listing, blistered, scalded.
I am the rod to their lightning.
Mine is the earhole their stories pierce.
At my altar the blouse is torn open
and the buttons sailed across
the incensed air space of the nave,
that I may witness the mastectomy scars
crisscrossed like barbed wire, like bandoliers.
To me, the mother carries the ash contents
of   the long-ago incinerated girl.
She begs me for comfort since my own son
was worse tortured. Justice,
they wail for — mercy?
Each prostrate body I hold my arms out for
is a cross my son is nailed to.

NOTES: Read the Q&A with Mary Karr about this poem

Source: Poetry (December 2012).


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Poet Mary Karr b. 1955

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Subjects Living, Sorrow & Grieving, The Body, Religion, God & the Divine

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Persona