SAINT DYMPHNA by Anne Champion

          Patron Saint of incest, runaways, and mental illness
Daily, Dymphna fed the orphans: Eat,
          she instructed, or you won’t have the energy
to name what hunts you. She gathered

the children round and instructed
          them to draw their dangers,
which she strung along pews

like paper doll chains. Dymphna
          drew a mind that churned with a saw blade’s
teeth, ready to ravage what it loved.

The children drew feathered beasts with plumage
          of smoke. A girl doesn’t need wings
to know the sky is dangerous, not vast enough

to vanish into, won’t shield a polluted body.
          At night, Dymphna’s rosary beads clicked
as she named her demons: Father, father, father.
Anne Champion is the author of Reluctant Mistress (Gold Wake Press, 2013), The Good Girl is Always a Ghost (Black Lawrence Press, 2018) and The Dark Length Home (Noctuary Press, 2017). Her work appears in Verse Daily, Prairie Schooner, Epiphany Magazine, Salamander, New South, Redivider, PANK Magazine, and elsewhere. She was a 2009 Academy of Amer-ican Poets Prize recipient, a 2016 Best of the Net winner, and a Barbara Deming Memorial Grant recipient. She currently teaches writing and literature in Boston, MA.