In truth, she didn’t starve
to talk to God – this was ritual,
hers. Only today, she wouldn’t keep
her customs secret as on so many
other days: she dug her finger down
between her ribcage, sucked in
hard, measured just how far
it sunk, how far it fell and faded
at the start.
                                                          10 hours in
she’d watch it vanish past her knuckle,
at 15 she’d make a fist,
at 24 she could press so deep
you’d only see her wrist.
She’d practiced this:
until routine, tradition, longing
brought her here.
                                  One handed, she imitated prayer –
staring out the window: a solitary weeping
pear tree there unloosening
its branched embroidery
over the threadbare yard – the godliness
of seeing for the first time
a woman let down her long hair
onto the curve of a naked spine, or feeling
her own body give way, become more hers
when she is less herself, when she is caving in
to fill her stomach faith-full, to gain control
over each vertebra, to make them rise
as if sprouting wings, beating hard
against the 25th hour.

Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach