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poetry Outings, Stigmata

The Marin County poet Francesca Bell approaches the abuse of children from their own perspective, as sacrilege, based on published testimonies.

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Outings

Sometimes, Father Francis took me
                                                   to the movies.
                                                                  Sometimes, to the morgue.

The bodies were laid out in rows,
                                               like on baking sheets.
                                                                Their mouths stayed open

the way my mouth stayed open the first time
                                               he touched me.
                                                          Some were stiff, the way I stiffened.

Twisted, the way I twisted. His warm lips,
                                             his tongue.
                                                           His finger in my little sphincter

as irresistible as death when it comes for you.
                                                 I came for him.
                                                                My tiny seed in his mouth.

Then he asked my confession, and we drove
                                               across town to see the dead
                                                               staring—fixed and forever—at me.

—Based on accounts of abuse at the hands of Father Francis Bass, who took groups of his molestation victims to visit the Cook County Hospital morgue, from the book Sacrilege by Leon J. Podles

Stigmata

A single trickle
from where he nailed me
to the sacristy wall,
pushing hard
to get all the way in.

He said he would
teach me mercy.
For three months now,
my wound weeps
in the dark.

—Based on accounts of abuse at the hands of Father Arthur F. O’Sullivan, from the book Sacrilege by Leon J. Podles

Francesca Bell’s poetry appears in many journals, including New Ohio Review, North American Review, Poetry Northwest, Prairie Schooner, River Styx, and Zone 3. She has been nominated eight times for the Pushcart Prize and won the 2014 Neil Postman Award for Metaphor from Rattle. See more: www.francescabellpoet.com