DOUBTING THERESA

Three times she denied.

First she was flat, sheet
metal in a machine press
turning out cold, steel sinks.
You could see your face in her.
Water rang inside her bowl
like a church bell echoes
over a morning field.
All surface-slick, resistant.

Three times she denied.

Second, she slid inside
another’s skin. She became
a vicar’s daughter, head girl,
Queen, high witch.
She imagined power, saw signs
in clouds, drew portents
in the entrails of a fox with a stick,
fell in love with a magic mirror.

Three times she denied.

Third, stooped, contrite,
prostrate before a Priest,
a hair-shirt bristling her breast
and back, dung flung, her plea:
she would play pig, sheep, ass,
do dumbshow, acrobat, high-wire
trapeze. She finished the act
with a somersault. They laughed.

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