Marie Howe

Magdalene Afterwards

Remember the woman in the blue burka forced to kneel in the stadium

then shot in the head? That was me.

And I was the woman who secretly filmed it.

I was hung as a witch by the people in my own town

I was sent to the asylum at sixteen.

I was walking with my younger sister looking for firewood

when we saw the group of men approaching.

I’m the woman so in love with my husband

sometimes I wait in the kitchen chair and stare at the door.

I’m bored at the business meeting,

impatient with the Do Not Walk sign.

I’m parked in my wheelchair with others in the hallway

in the home – three hours till lunch, I don’t remember who it is

who leans down to kiss me.

I’ve forgotten my keys, dropped the dish, fallen down

the icy stoop.

I’m sitting on the bench with my bags waiting for the bus.

I’m the woman in the black suit and heels hailing a taxi.

I’m in prayer, in meditation, I’ve shaved my head, I wear robes

now instead of dresses.

When I enter the classroom, all the children call out my name at once.

I’m talking on my cell phone while driving.

I’m walking the goats out to the far field, gazing at the mountain

I’ve looked at every day of my life.

I never had children,

I bore nine living children and two dead ones

I adopted a girl in my late middle age

I’m cooking rice and beans

cooking dal

cooking lamb

making pizza

lighting the candles on the birthday cake

standing quietly by the window

still hungry for I don’t know what.

Often I’m lonely.

Sometimes a joy pours through me so immense.

I want to see through the red bricks of the building across the street,

into the something else that almost gleams though the day.