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©2018 Barren Magazine. An Alt.Lit Introspective.

On Suffering, From a Mother of Four to St. Catherine of Sienna


by Renee Emerson

“I have always long to suffer for God and His Church” – St. Catherine of Sienna

When you told the Pope to “be a man,”
what did you know of men, Virgin?

Clasping chastity to your breasts
as an anointing. Unwed, a chosen

deprivation. After my third child,
I buy a corset, thought to correct

the muscles. I pity myself, cinched,
munching a Lean Cuisine, dark chocolate.

When you began to die, eating only
the sacrament, you lay flat on a slat

of wood, a rough-hewn plank,
your final offering on the plate.

Wafer-thin, you tore against your
own skin, an iron chain to out sin:
yours, others’, the dead, the living.

Header photograph © Kathy Gibbons.

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