30/30 Project Day 12: And Now a Word From the Pope


It would be awfully cool if the voices in my head would put on heavy black robes and red beanies, then disappear into a locked room, only to send up white smoke when my latest poem is completed.  Alas, it is all me–the girl who doesn’t own a little black dress (or heavy black robe), a red beanie, or a room that one of my children doesn’t know how to unlock with a butter knife.

pope and maryIt is with this admission that I present my latest in the Mary series, and my 12th poem as part of the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project.  Have you donated yet?  It is truly a worthy cause, and every $5, $10 or $50 will help keep a wonderful indie press in business.  And did you know about their $99 subscription deal?  9 books for $99.  You can’t beat it.  Check it out!  (And if you subscribe, tell them you heard it here!)

So, the poem.  My dear friend Dan Wilcox donated to Tupelo in my name and requested a poem about the Pope.  Funny thing, Dan, I have been vaguely following this whole papal process and have found it very poetic.  Problem is, I’m not sure what I make of it.  I love the idea of waiting for white smoke to send us a message.  (I think I’d like to invent a cell phone that emits a puff of white smoke each time I have a new message.)  I also love the solemnity, the tradition, and the secrecy.   And I am fascinated by the maleness of it all.

I am not convinced the Pope has said enough to Mary.  Mary might need to reply.  Jill might need to learn a little more about popes and priests and nuns and such.  Until then…

The Pope Writes a Letter to Mary

Was it the ghosts in long lines
outside our lonely bedroom,
the fingers in your hair,
the hands at your gorgeous throat?

I made of you a painting,
my empty canvas,
my virgin easel,
my uterus tipped with gold.

The other women said stallion,
said knight, bishop, king,
said your man, your man, your man.

My sweet Pinocchio
you lied to the puppet maker
told him you loved his hammer,
his chisel, his hand woven strings.

Your voice a broken doorbell,
the knocking I couldn’t hear.
Who’s there?
Who’s there?

Remember me in a curl of white smoke,
a signature disguised in a tattoo,
a red feather dropped as a cardinal passes.


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