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The Husband as Saint Sebastian

ISSUE:  Winter 2021

You can’t control what people make of you. 
Some see sacrifice
       where others see torture, and some see suffering
                           where others see pleasure. 

A body bound and contorted,
             the chest fletched with arrows, 
                       the inguinal crease
                    slashing away from modesty— 

of all the martyrs you’ve loved 
                  I’m the one who comes 
          ripped and rippling to the canvas, 
                       my face a study in crisis. And you wonder if I like it— 

                                                the way a golden light spills
                                                           over my skin when the head sinks in, 
                                     the way my pain hardens men 
                                                           to further action. 

Do I ask you how many times 
                        someone fired an arrow 
        your way and you unbuttoned your shirt? 
                                                                                 Let us have no more
We’ve both cast 
       our eyes skyward, hoping for release. 

                                    You want to know how I can stand
                                            so long with so little support,

and I’ll tell you what I tell myself— 
                         for God’s sake, you just lean into it.


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