Traci Brimhall


I faked my death once, spent a week hiding in a lupanar

tied to a couch where a woman painted a mustache on


my upper lip and returned to kiss me between customers,

offering moth wings to my open mouth instead of


a Eucharist, which wouldn’t save me anyway, but I wanted

a small measure of penitence to make my knees go numb.


This love did not redeem me, but it did take my toes

in its mouth and call me by pleasure’s other name.


I was happy then, licking another man’s sweat from

a stranger’s breast, all bristle and bruised wrists, saturnine


and weeping over the gospels in my pocket. I understood

my sorrow of the world would not change it. My horror


could not make the electrodes burn the torturer’s hand

instead. It could not unbury the priest or transform


ashes back into a book. Better this choice to be powerless,

enthralled, to forgive God’s ambition to be free of us.

Traci Brimhall

<em>Edit Poetry</em> Traci Brimhall

Traci Brimhall is the author of Our Lady of the Ruins (W.W. Norton), selected by Carolyn Forché for the 2011 Barnard Women Poets Prize, and Rookery (Southern Illinois University Press), winner of the 2009 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award.  Her poems have appeared in Kenyon Review, Slate, Virginia Quarterly Review, New England Review, The Missouri Review, and elsewhere.  She was the 2008-09 Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing and currently teaches at Western Michigan University, where she is a doctoral associate and King/Chávez/Parks Fellow.