Carol Ann Duffy

Pope Joan

After I learned to transubstantiate
unleavened bread
into the sacred host

and swung the burning frankincense
till blue-green snakes of smoke
coiled round the hem of my robe

and swayed through those fervent crowds,
high up in a papal chair,
blessing and blessing the air,

nearer to heaven
than cardinals, archbishops, bishops, priests,
being Vicar of Rome,

having made the Vatican my home,
like the best of men,
in nomine patris et filii et spiritus sancti amen,

but twice as virtuous as them,
I came to believe
that I did not believe a word,

so I tell you now,
daughters or brides of the Lord,
that the closest I felt

to the power of God
was the sense of a hand
lifting me, flinging me down,

lifting me, flinging me down,
as my baby pushed out
from between my legs

where I lay in the road
in my miracle,
not a man or a pope at all.