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Penitential Acts

Lauren Foley

Breathless. Spoken. / = beat
// = pause
— = run-on lines
: // = abrupt pause

I confess to almighty God / and to you / my brothers and sisters / that I have sinned through my own fault / in my thoughts and in my words / in what I have done / and in what I have failed to do / and I ask blessèd Mary / ever Virgin / all the angels and saints / and you / my brothers and sisters / to pray for me to the Lord our God / in the upper echelons of this faith they drink the fruits / our earthly labour / which human hands hath made / begotten not made / of one being with the Father // Lie here // striking shadows cast by clouds turning and twisting above / me / Stretch out / on backs considering skyscape / plucked from the vine / grapes / which human hands have made / see through its taut transparent skin / see its veins / peel back the burgundy cover / succulent and wet to its core / in my / where the seed is hard / in my thoughts / covered by this fleshy extremity / in my thoughts / the oval spot concealed by this flesh / blessèd flesh / in my thoughts / blessèd are you among women / in what I have done / in thought / and blessèd is the fruit of your womb // sunkissed // And in what I have failed to do—weather-beaten fruitless harvest a decrepitude of old men’s impotence—what have I what have I done—lonely only beauty of youth—I ask—full of plucking ripe for the picking—pluck my impotence of now—what have I done—I have done—subdue the music be with the heart the bosom—lie down—here—under our earthly labour—I have done undone—I have warmed to the flicker with heat and move next to me in the vine we are one to be done and undone—what have I—I have // burned with the dance and you’re close so close so close the ripeness lie here on your back rest lay your head on me you are ripe for the plucking from this vine and music be the heart of dance and: // what have I have have done I have done and: // the fruit of this vine is next to be plucked by hands we have made and ready to pluck the flesh your flesh my flesh and lubricate ourselves and the fruit of the union spontaneous growth—fruition—we consecrate this vine with a stupor a passion a flame a hell and Burn Burn Burn for all your mortal sins ashes to ashes dust to dust—a new test— // And I ask blessèd Mary all the angels and saints to pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death: // through our fault through our fault through our most grievous fault

From Polluted Sex, Influx Press, 2022, shortlisted for the Barbellion Prize 2022.


Lauren Foley