She Had a Name, It Was Saint Catherine of Siena

by Raisa Imogen

Once I did not eat

I grew a fine coat of hair. loved my bright collarbone

more than I loved any boy—

hip bones, knives, apple seeds, dust,

I left a trail of paper behind me

personal confetti of tallied calories

oh, reader, you’ve heard this story before?

have you heard the sound a body makes as it absorbs itself?

like clocks ticking backwards.

In her journals, Catherine claimed God tore out her heart

and replaced it with his. Without food, any heart begins to slow

eventually stops. Catherine lost the use of her legs

so I walk the hills for her. I am 23, and beautiful

and won’t always be.

I walk until I reach Santa Maria Della Scala

where the prayers ring out:

Cara Caterina, virgine devotissima

protect me from fire

Padre Nostro, Ave Maria, Gloria al Padre

protect me from myself

and light streams through the windows

and everything is a blessing

because I am still beneath my skin

and not beneath the dirt

five rays shooting out from the crucifix on the altar

Padre Nostro, Ave Maria, Gloria al Padre

and the sky is the color of Zoloft:

pale blue, elliptical, beautiful