May the Circle be Unbroken – a poem by Jessica Mattox

May the Circle be Unbroken   

At nineteen,
I learned I couldn’t hold
anything in my hands.

Even my heart sat on sinews,
waiting for directions
from my soul, waiting for my 
bones to call it beautiful. 

When I took my whole
heart to a holy 
space, I reached for a
long, slender door handle, installed
by hands I never touched.

The grey-green
slate seemed impenetrable
until I put one sandaled foot 
in front of the other, stepping on well-
worn stones. The absent voices
stored in the wood beckoned me. 

In this sustained,
constrained-open
place, I knew the high triangular ceilings
would catch me if I faltered. 

God stirred together
a strange alchemy, 
wrapping me in warmth
while hushing me
in awe. 

My fingers gripped 
the rosary
I received at Confirmation
with its 
black
obsidian beads.

All the way around,
ten to a set, I held
each bead between
index and thumb,
saying one Hail Mary
after another 
into reverie. 

Fingers on black beads;
atom on atom—there’s still
space

between everything
we touch. 

Jessica Mattox is a PhD student in English at Old Dominion University and an adjunct English professor. In addition to writing poetry, she is passionate about the teaching and learning of technical/professional communication and first-year composition. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Last Leaves Magazine, The Album at Hollins University, Exit 109 at Radford University, and others. In addition, her academic scholarship has been published in the Virginia English Journal.

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