Lindsey Warren: How to Pray to Virgin Saints

marathonlitreview —  June 23, 2016 — Leave a comment

Agnes, protector of nursery rhymes.  Feast day:  January 21

Don’t think of the boy in the green hoodie.  The one with the sleepy eyes.  Though, if you do, wrap all of the titles of the songs he hums during science class around your index finger.  Take those words you found in the petri dish, hypothesis, hypotenuse, hippopotamus, and draw around the consonants leaves from the Wood Between the Worlds.  Swirl over and under their vines like a butterfly with its eyes shut.  Your tongue is pink and swelling:  Use it.  Wink back at the January stars.

Brigid, protector of redheads and cows’ eyes.  Feast day:  February 1.

Those watercolors you see streaming from your sister’s mouth, you need them.  Place pails on each side of her bed for collecting when she talks in her dreams.  Your whole neighborhood has the flu so you must paint everything dawn.  Reach into those pails, throw up handfuls of blue through the canopy of oak leaves on Dover Avenue.  Take the yellows, the ones that are secretly sad, toss them over your shoulder onto the train tracks.  The pinks, fling them against the brick houses.  Let the sun sort out the pinks that are really reds and the pinks that are really golds.  Put on your knee socks, comb your hair, don’t tell anyone.  Hurry to school.

Joan of Arc, protector of purple.  Feast day:  May 30.

Step back.  You have dropped your sentences by the stove so many times that some have become mere glints, the pronouns too jagged for tea.  Put on your boots.  Somewhere on Bancroft Parkway is a church tissued with blushing flowers.  Find it.  Wade out into the black pond surrounding its entrance.  Lily pads will open their lips.  See if you can find in them pearls, uvulas, lost keys.  Feel the sky’s million azures drape your shoulders.  This night will know your name.  Pour it a glass of water.

Margaret of Antioch, protector of babies’ breath.  Feast day:  July 20.

Pluck all of the hushes out of your body.  Bookmark the encyclopedia at Euclid, get on a bus, talk to everyone.  Find the one boy who dresses in rags but inscribes his capitals like a French king.  Steal his sorrow from right out of his pocket, stand in the Atlantic.  Toss it over the almost-green waves.  Feel it get tangled in your hair.

Christina the Astonishing, protector of Baba Yagas.  Feast day:  July 24.

Unlatch your ribs.  Pull out the orange rind, fish head, peonies dripping with ants, newspapers, violin case full of nickels, chipped vase and glass eye therein.  Convince the priest with the cigar breath that these are your heart.  Fly away.

Ursula, protector of third place.  Feast day:  October 21.

Count all the stars that have come to Mass.  This little piggy went to Jerusalem, this little piggy stayed in Ursa Major, this little piggy drink the Blood of Christ, this little piggy had none, and this little piggy went weeeeeeeeeeeeeee all the home to help carry in groceries.  After the service, challenge them to a race.  Lose.  See, through their blended burnings, how they return your smile in kind.

Cecilia, protector of devils in the deep blue sea.  Feast day:  November 22.

Regard the gardenia on the kitchen table.  Do not try to save the love notes burning in the pockets of its white gown.  Just say to it, Come on, give us some small white breath, from beneath your sweater.  Attempt to remember the orphan, or the cyclist, or the horse that once used the tongue you have now to voice its hurts.  Observe the dead as they bump into each other and fumble through their effervescences for words they cannot form.  Be careful of the ones trapped as bruised feet in someone else’s dream.  Do not step on them.  Gather the smoke, dust motes and scraps of prism from the floor.  Place them on the sill next to the coffee cup.  It is missing someone.

Catherine of Alexandria, protector of thought bubbles.  Feast day:  November 25.

Go to your colored pencils.  Put the ones touched by orange and yellow in the collection basket.  The church will use them to fill in the candle holders on the altar and the autumns in the rectory yard.  In summer, pick up the caramels fallen between the organ notes.  Give them to the poor.  In winter, pick up the peppermints fallen between the organ notes.  Give them to your mother.

Lucy, protector of the dust in the sunbeam.  Feast day:  December 13.

Admit that there is something beautiful about the way the hair of the girl who sits in front of you ripples through the 8 am light.  Her name is not that of a saint.  Neither is yours.  Write her a note that smells like first snow, invite her over for dinner.  Invite all the lamps on your street, too.  Identify each one by its gait and the tones struck by its footsteps.  Find chairs for all of their upright basses.  Open to the scripture passage that reads In my father’s house there are many moons; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare one to shine on your face?  Let it rest by the butter.  Remember that everyone makes some kind of sense, sit next to the girl from class.  Tell her the morning likes her hair.  Eat.


Lindsey Warren lives in Newark, Delaware and works as an asbestos claims reviewer. Her poems have been published in The Fox Chase Review, The Broadkill Review, Dreamstreets and Secret Lovers Press. She is the recipient of an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Delaware Division of the Arts and has recently accepted enrollment into Cornell University’s MFA program.

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