Traci Brimhall


A voice demands its time inside her.
     She closes her eyes, opens her mouth,
          and I know I’m losing her to God again.

She collapses, delivered, the small emergency
    of spirit has fled. The congregation mutters Amen.
          Hallelujahs tattoo the air. I hate the faces

lifted in awe, rejoicing at the ecstatic fire
    in her body, at the awful language of angels.
          This morning I found her in the kitchen studying

a vase of burnt lilies. She’d set them on fire to hear
    their voices, and they told her You will suffer time
          and you will die.
I keep praying. Though I feel

nothing. I keep praying for possibility. For doubt.
    Bargaining for time. Wondering how long it will be
          until she turns her hand against herself again.

What keeps her here, tied to this life? What weakness?
    What strength? The answer pulses on her tongue.
          The answer is trembling, unspeakable.