“Seven Ways of Looking at Saint Teresa”

Click here to listen to Steven Coughlin read this poem.                                      I Among Alba de Dios’ twenty rooms the only moving thing is a saw cutting through the left wrist of Saint Teresa.

The scent of lilies fills General Francisco Franco’s bed chamber
as he no longer clings to life
but only to the collarbone of Saint Teresa.

What should one make of this November wind?
Is it a mother calling out for her missing child?
Or is it Saint Teresa calling out for her stolen heart?

A man and a woman
are one.
A man and a woman and the right leg of Saint Teresa
are five to fifteen years in the state penitentiary.

I do not know which to prefer,
Van Gogh’s Green Ears of Wheat with its thick, promising roses;
or the lungs of Saint Teresa hammered to the wall beside it
with heavy, copper nails.

The streets are crowded.
Pieces of Saint Teresa’s alabaster foot must be selling for half-off.

In this small wooden box I keep the heart of Saint Teresa.
Although fainter now when held tight enough it’s still possible
to feel it beating, pumping faith through the veins of a disbeliever.
Here— I’m giving it to you.