13th Century Monasticism: An Assay; As if the Body Could Forget; A Reflection on Love In
By: Jessicca Daigle Martin
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
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.