POETRY

My Mother as St. Perpetua

By Bryce Emley


and I obtained leave for my baby to remain in the prison with me … and my prison suddenly became a palace to me, and I would rather have been there than anywhere else

— St. Perpetua, from Passio SS. Perpetuae et Felicitas

I believed a mother’s gift
was not her child, but her capacity

to release him from her sadness.
I swear I felt you everywhere,

even in my loneliness. No,
especially in my loneliness.

My child, my regret has been belief
in one who would ask for us to give to him

what we couldn’t live without.
And if I could do it again, I would.

And if I could do it again,
I would find another offering than us.

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