Cathexis Northwest Press

© 2018 

13th Century Monasticism: An Assay; As if the Body Could Forget; A Reflection on Love In 
13th Century Monasticism: An Assay

                      — from Dialogue of Miracles, vol II, by Caesarious of Heisterbach

 

A woman seeks for a remedy and it is told her 

that she should place the Lord’s body among the ills. 

 

In South Louisiana, my grandmother

mourns the loss of her only son, whose cold body 

she discovered in his bed before leaving their house 

for work. I need you, she tells me 

over the phone. After the service, 

when finally alone together, we stroke the urn, 

resting upon her mantle. 

 

Wherein they set up a tiny altar 

and lay thereon this most holy body. 

 

In England, deep in West Country, a beekeeper’s 

bees perish in a plague. She brings home 

the Lord’s body, that small piece of bread, 

and hides it in the hive, 

waits for the plague to cease. 

 

People marvel at the little chapel with its walls and windows, 

roof and tower, door and m altar; return the Lord’s body.

 

In his room I help my grandmother sort 

my uncle’s few belongings, a man only forty-two 

and without children of his own. I inherit 

the football shirt I bought him last Christmas, 

a sweatshirt five sizes too big for me, 

and a leather bound copy of The Purpose Driven Life 

with three dog-eared pages. I open his wallet 

and find last year’s school pictures of my children. 

 

Recognizing the might of their Creator, they built 

their sweetest Guest, out of their sweetest honeycombs.

 

The plague leaves, the bees flourish

in their colony where they create a miniature chapel

and altar of divine workmanship. For days 

the beekeeper circles the hive, curiously guessing 

at the wonder within. When it is finally split open,

Jesus’ body is revealed. 

Some deny the resurrection of the body; they mock 

at any benefit coming to the dead from the living.

 

The night of the memorial service I dream 

about the bees, my grandmother, a baby 

dying in its mother’s arms, 

until I am awakened 

and drawn towards my grandmother’s weeping. 

Outside my uncle’s bedroom door 

I sit and listen to my grandmother’s fitful prayers, 

almost believing that I hear the noise of bees

and taste their honey, sweet and sticky on my lips.    

As if the Body Could Forget

 

It began with my grandmother

asking, What day is it again?

forgetting where she put her house key,

occasionally looking confused 

when spoken to. So it seems easy

to understand why no one noticed the times

she placed her heart medication

with the cheese, or wore her slippers to work,

chalking it all up to exhaustion or comfort. 

 

Next, small words she’d known 

for eighty years began to escape:

cup, robe, bird, red, 

so that things always became something else:

The red is really warm today. 

The cup’s chest is a brilliant bright robe.

Can I have more water in my bird? 

 

Only later after she forgot how to chew

and swallow, did she forget the face of my father.

Days we’d wait for her eyelids to unfold

while we listened to her say, Momma,

I’m coming home. Wait for me. 

And when she did awaken,

her tongue would unknot itself,

and together we’d crowd around her to see

eyes that had faded to a bluish-white. 

Momma, she’d whisper. 

 

So I ask, Grandmother, is it so easy 

for the mind to forget what I know 

the body must remember, 

those final moments when it opens wide 

like a white sky pressing for release? 

As if your body

could forget being weighed down,

stretched until bursting. 

 

Grandmother, say it with me—

Birth, baby, body

Watch my mouth form those syllables. 

 

 

See my lips speak the words.

In your bird I would pour gallons 

of water to quench your thirst

just to hear you say

love,

my bird 

my son. 

A Reflection on Love In 

 

It wasn’t that he vanished from my life 

like first love; it’s that he didn’t survive 

his truck spinning, settling wheels up down in 

a ditch, crushed beneath the metal drowning

him. That same year I became a mother

and my brother carried like some old prayer

card his friend’s picture in a guitar case.

We both felt that thick sorrow masked as fate.

But only I learned of love—saints looming

like a mystery, later revealing

 

themselves as my hours-old, newborn son.

Watch as I trace love’s birth along the crown

of hair, and see my son’s suckling reflex 

when my hand brushes his quivering cheek. 

Jessicca Daigle holds a Ph.D. in English from Texas Tech University. Her poems and essays have appeared in Redivider, So to Speak, Christianity & Literature, CALYX Journal, Ruminate Magazine, Women’s Studies Journal, and numerous other publications. Her chapbook, Always Adter Our Fall won the Copperdome Press/Southeast Missouri State University Press 2010 Chapbook award. She’s been a finalist for a number of other awards as well, including the Arts & Letters Poetry Award, Ruminate Magazine’s Poetry Award, the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry and The Trio House Press Trio Award for a First or Second Book. She lives in Fort Hood, TX, with her husband, Jared, and their two toddlers, Noah and Eden.