Sometimes, life is unbearably sweet,
when the shadows of a Moorish lamp are spilt upwards
and blotted into bedroom walls;
when morpho butterflies nestle bluely on a canvas,
and brandy burns like petrol in your gut.
Sometimes, the death-keening of a violin
makes me sick to the stomach
Once, when I was just a child in patent leather shoes,
a madwoman raving in a red train carriage
made me feel the same, and almost holy.
Even now, I’m confused by my own secret Maria Goretti;
by my own secret murderer lurking nearby.
I suppose it shouldn’t have fascinated me:
the story of the fourteen-year-old peasant girl…
(or was it fourteen stab wounds?)
and the father’s long cart ride over a rutted road,
with Maria jolting like a sack of spilt meal
on boards strewn with straw.
I had hoped to be a much-desired saint.
I had hoped that Our Lady might appear to me,
like Serena Couchi, who fell into the flames of a bonfire
when she was only small, wearing a Blessed Scapula
around her neck.
But she was just a potato-farmer’s daughter, and Maltese,
with dirty cracks around her fingernails,
whose sister sold pink lemonade in wax cups at Woolworths.
I always liked the story of how Jesus would not be tempted
by the devil, and shouted: Get behind me,
I always liked Jesus when he shouted.
Once, I did get behind you,
though it was no less sinful than in front.
My hair hung between your buttocks
and down your left thigh.
I felt like the Magdalene,
and my hair seemed to fill the room.
My combustion seemed to fill the afternoon,
and you can’t deny,
it was a miracle, of sorts.
Albinoni adagio in g minor