SAINT BARBARA by Anne Champion

          Patron Saint of architects, firemen, miners, prisoners, artillerymen, and firemen
When my father locked me in a tower,
          I didn’t know what to make of so much horizon.
                    Sometimes, the moon looked like just another egg

churning in the assembly line of my body.
          Sometimes, its edges sharpened like a sickle,
                    poised to sever the quiet that hovers

over forests and good girls. For years,
          my palms pressed my conforming knees shut.
                    Each hand lived in such a terrible loneliness

until I let them touch each other.
          You want to know how I learned how to snuff
                    a torch with my mind? From taming

the flamed tongue between my legs.
          I prayed until the heat soldered me into metal,
                    until I was made of windows and bars.

In daylight, a long shadow dragged itself erect
          across the garden—to escape, a girl needs
                    the power to design her own prisons.

Sisters, build your temples and shrines,
          let the bodies of holy men inspire
                    your architecture. Then set them on fire.
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 American 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.