Transubstantiation – a poem by Sarah A. Etlinger


Whenever a Jewish woman is pregnant,
it’s believed, she could carry the Messiah.
Maybe that’s why she can’t help but feed you.
How like Mary: preparing a hidden feast
for your belly like the nourishment
growing in hers, perfect conditions
for growing a life.

Maybe that’s why I take
such pleasure in feeding you:
they say the spirit resides
in pieces of barren cracker
and the cloying sweetness of wine.
Jews do not believe this
and yet–
my holy ancestor
crawls out of hiding when we’re alone
and I’m praying the rosary on your chest:
each rib a mystery
…………(Oh hail those holy mysteries
…………as your heart beats…)

each beat hail my holy Queen
my life my sweetness my hope
oh hail hail
my holy Queen

each breath a decade,
each “Glory Be” my kiss–

You make Mother of me
sweetness my hope oh welcome to Grace
You make Mother of me
there on your chest
from the very breaths I grow
within the deepest cells
of my body.


Sarah A. Etlinger is an English professor who resides in Milwaukee, WI, with her family. In addition to writing, hobbies include cooking, traveling, and learning to play piano. Look for her work in The Penwood Review, The Magnolia Review, Cliterature, and many others. Her chapbook, Never One For Promises, is forthcoming from Kelsay Books in 2019.

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