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From Witch to Saint


Voices clamor, church bell,

simple brass, a calling

breeze to leaves ---

Others tempt to want

more: armor, blood, men

on horseback, her own pike,

a way to alchemize

plain men into kings.

Jeanne was an arrow to the jugular.


He reaches for my face, slides his wrinkled

hand and untrimmed nails through

my clean, dark hair. He rests his hand on my back,

like a hot coal, says qué linda, looks at me as if

I am wine his thirst is entitled to. I hear voices too:

Throw him into the blazing furnace. Cut off his hand. Let moth

and rust burn off his fingers. Lake of fire, burning sulfur.

My other voices try and reason:

Your silence is gold your first year on the job.

He is retiring anyway. It will pass.

I change classrooms to avoid him.

I’m not sure who is going mad or if any of this

is worth burning for, but I can’t drop my spear.

Once, a voice told me if you map

the course of any river, you will get the profile

of a woman, because rivers

turn into women: some crowned, others round like belly,

messengers feeding the same ocean,

parting waves,

water thrashing at snake

tongues of fire. ______________________________________________________________ Allison Albino is a Filipina-American poet and French teacher who lives and writes in Harlem. Her work has either appeared or is forthcoming with The Rumpus, The Lantern Review, Pigeon Pages, Poetry Northwest and elsewhere. She has received fellowships from The Community of Writers at Squaw Valley, The Fine Arts Work Center and Tin House. Her chapbook, “My Mother’s Prufrock”, was a finalist for YesYes Books’ 2019 Vinyl 25 Chapbook Contest. She studied creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College and has an M.A. in French literature from NYU.


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