Affliction

by KATHLEEN NALLEY

One may expect blood. But there hardly ever is. Just the expected skinned knee, the predictable cat scratch, the squashed mosquito. There was no blood when her son fell from the window, only a minor white scratch in the shape of a cross on his forehead. He declared his salvation just this year, in a small indoor pool, at a church where she doesn’t belong. She was sprinkled as an infant. Some don’t consider this to count, an affront to believing and meaning. As a child, she always partook of the crumbs of bread and the thimbles of grape juice, weak substitutes for flesh and blood. Maybe this explains her current affliction, how she became all knot and chain, a wound cauterized.

KATHLEEN NALLEY is the author of Nesting Doll (winner of the S.C. Poetry Initiative Prize), and American Sycamore (Finishing Line Press). Her poetry has appeared in Night Block, The Bitter Southerner, Melancholy Hyperbole, and Night Owl, as well as in the Kakalak 2014 Anthology. She holds an MFA from Converse College and teaches literature and writing at Clemson University.