In Bad Faith

By Sara Femenella

Elsewhere a bell rings 
medieval in its calling and here 

I fumble for a reliquary, 
any bit of cloth or bone 

my religion left me 
naked on a marble slab

what else is faith? The inner eye
takes the initiative like Medea

spent centuries believing pregnancy
would save us, programmed ambition

through seasonal depression,
social media and NPR,

the elsewhere bell clangs the myth
as pure and ruinous as an all-boys choir,

angelic sons already smoking
with the violence we burn.

My son is my greatest pagan idol
I even love his shit, my feminism

a split tongue wanting
what others have, unrepentant

for each of the thousand pregnancies
I bet on the prophecy of a son

that will one day destroy us
and my witch hysteria begs

to whom Dear Body
shall I give you?

My love language lies somewhere
between the book of shadows and pizza

delivered still hot: my husband
built the back deck himself

my son drew me a mother’s day card
strewn with both hearts and ghosts

and whether or not such happiness
is an illusion the elsewhere bell

rings like a scapegoat
for the grandmothers who

spilled blood in the kitchen
but kept the floors so clean

you could eat off them
this is our inheritance, the sainthood

we hungered, the hexes we cast
to hold any space in line

for the next woman rushing to make it
home in time for dinner.

Headshot of Sara Fermenella

Sara Femenella received an MFA in poetry from Columbia University and a Masters in Education from Brooklyn College. Her poems have been published in Pleiades, The New Orleans Review, The Saint Ann’s Review, Denver Quarterly, Salamander and The Journal, among others. She teaches, lives and writes in Los Angeles with her husband and son.

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