There is one woman.
She has been split by men
whose brains, bellies, testicles are eaten
by worms; who, with gun in hand, become sacks
of shadow and ash for their trade
with death; who are made blood
brothers on the dull, rusty blade
The child in her blooms
like nightshade: lovely to look at,
wild of habit, deadly if eaten.
The soldiers buried seed in her,
but the harvest they will not reap. Her
child will be a pale petal on a delicate stem.
There is one woman;
now there are two.
The second wears her name, Ancilla,
as a rough habit of prayer. Her name,
"maidservant," dances before her like laughter.
Her sleeves are rolled up,
a dimpled wrist. A watch. In a steady voice
she puts the words of the stories in order.
Making sure none slip out of place.
She gathers bruised women
like lilies to her breast:
the insane, the tortured, the forever lost.
She touches the dark shadows
that veil their eyes -- eyes that now disown
their bodies. She gathers them,
pale petals on delicate stems.
There are two women;
now there are three.