Triptych of Devotion

by Angela Costi

the shower
I wanted to drown as it poured, 
to meld my skin with its direction.
The hot, steady stream was meant 
to cleanse my tangled heart. 
I was soaping shame and guilt 
like mud and slugs they were clinging
to what I had done, what I should have done,
what he did, what he didn’t do, 
didn’t say… 
The disappointment wedged in his frown.

the library 
He was the first teacher to touch my soul
with ideas, language, passion. 
He steamed my body 
with what I could become, 
no longer Cypriot daughter
stuck between eczema and fear.
It was how he noticed my story 
struggling to escape
and he unlocked the cage with 
A Kind of Loving and A Patch of Blue. 
How those pages showered me with resonance…
When he probed my narrative, I replied with subtext. 
When he emphasised foreshadowing, I pictured me
on that park bench waiting for the smell of him.

the altar 
Sinking into a loop of words
wish… stop… help… 
A plea preferred to prayer.
My eyes closed, my hands clasped,
my mind locked into his mouth, 
how I had kissed it 
like gelati on a hot day
… forget…
The taste of disdain on his lips,
the way he turned his back
and became a closed book
I look up at two feet nailed as one,
the face is ready to die;
Oh how our bodies  
are miracles of pain.

The detailed depiction of the Jesus Christ story, Triptych With Birth Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ by Hans Memling (Flemish) c.1470

inspired my recreation of a story of devotion. The birth, crucifixion and resurrection of first love, can be likened to idolatry, to an obsession to heal childhood wounds. 

Angela Costi is also known as Aggeliki Kosti among the Cypriot-Greek diaspora. She is the author of four poetry collections: Dinted HalosPrayers for the WickedHoney & Salt, and Lost in Mid-Verse. Her fifth, An Embroidery of Old Maps and New, is due for release with Spinifex Press. She has written eight produced plays/performance text, including PanayiotaShimmer and A Nest of Cinnamon. She manages Angela Costi Poetics — a FaceBook page dedicated to reflecting on the poetry writing process.  

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