Santa Zitae, Virgine Luc – a poem by Lucy Seward

Santa Zitae, Virgine Luc
Basilica di San Frediano, Lucca

santa zitae, virgine luc:
bejeweled in roses, encased in glass and gold,
body long, brown, open before me:
her mouth stretched wide in endless inhalation, 
skin papery and packed like mud, 
bone creviced and crusted, 
fingers and toes poking like knives:
i can hear them scraping.

dust scratched and lace lined,
she holds me. 
the cathedral air is thick with her, 
rustling with death, hot and musty whispers,
suspended in shadow.
i wonder how my flesh will rot.
body exhumed in 1580, 
three centuries spent curled inside the earth.
she was real, she was real, i think it as a question.
i will her a voice, one that sounds like wet sand–dense, beautiful;
i feel entitled to some sort of comfort, explanation, prophecy.

tell me what you loved, touched, wondered: 
did you dream?
did you stare at your own reflection? 
an aching to sliver between the fluttering colors of her consciousness,
the human of her, to know her ripest and most shiny parts, 
for her to hold my face close, spill her metallic language into me 
until i recognize that i am of her, and she of me: 
it is my body exhumed, adorned, preserved, displayed,
my eyes gouged smooth as peeled bark, 
my breath sucked dry in the airless case. 

Lucy Seward is in her third year at Hamilton College, where she majors in Literature and double minors in Women and Gender Studies and Spanish. She loves to read novels, write poetry, go for walks in the woods, and listen to music. She spends time at school as the Co-Editor-in-Chief of the campus’ main literary magazine, Red Weather (, and as the Music Director for the campus’ radio station. 

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