The Humility of St. Teresa of Ávila by Rochelle Hurt

She never saw God in her fits—
not the way the others did: what if
God was a vulture licking her clean, her words
a machine-hand rigging her legs back
as she sang, her mind a sack of apologies
emptied. She knew the technology
of prayer: how to slip out of herself
as out of a nightgown. How, to bow completely,
we need the body first to fail us.
This was the sigil painted on her face
that the others were afraid to read, to say
there was another way, all this time
a little hello unheard on the end of the line.
His voice grew over hers like a scab
best picked alone at night, only the stars
flaring then blushing overhead. Maybe
God became the snickering sound of a train
huffing its way through the dark
toward her. Once she heard Him coming,
she had no choice but to unhinge
her lips, open her tunnel throat, and swallow.
Rochelle Hurt is the author of The Rusted City, a novel in poems published by White Pine Press (2014). Her work has been included in Best New Poets 2013, Crab Orchard Review, Hunger Mountain, Mid-American Review, The Southeast Review, Kenyon Review Online, and elsewhere.