Medieval saints could read hearts

like Braille. This was never the case
for Mother Cabrini. As a child she put her fingers
to her chest whenever there was pain
and pressed into it,

as if the muscle needed a reminder
of the real.

Perhaps she was too weak to bear
the sacred. She thought of the chalice,
of the font, durable vessels of the holy
beside her own blue-white hands.

In a dream she broke open her chest
like communion bread and rubbed her fingers
into the bleeding muscle of her heart,
looking for messages.

In another, a man she’d never met
turned wine back into water, but it was only
a trick of the light.

There were a few miracles.
Each morning when she came into the chapel
dozens of stained glass Virgins
cast their color on the stones.

*Originally published in Gnarled Oak.

Rebecca Valley is a poet and writer living in Olympia, Wash. Her poems have been featured or are forthcoming from a number of magazines, including Rattle, NECK Press Review, and Glass: A Journal of Poetry. She is the editor-in-chief of Drizzle Review, a book review site with a focus on minority authors and books in translation, and the poetry editor at The Drowning Gull. During the daylight hours she works as a middle school librarian.


Jayne Marek‘s photos have appeared in publications such as Camas, Sliver of Stone, Gyroscope, Central American Literary Review, Peacock Journal, New Mexico Review, Blast Furnace, and Gravel, among others.

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