Canticle for My Clavicle by Kate Bernadette Benedict

Canticle for My Clavicle

Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. —Psalm 51

“Nonunion” is the state my bone is in.
This collarbone, a jagged twig that snapped.
Bedaze me in your light, erase my sin.

Behold, I am ill-shaped, atilt, askew,
unable to embrace, outstretch, or clap.
Correct me, that my bearing may be true.

For I admit my role in this my fate,
having broken rank as well as bone.
My soul’s fragmented too; it’s warped, not straight.

Some exult when they become the crone
and do not mourn the passing of their youth.
But I decried it. Now must I atone?

Hide thy face from each wrong thought and choice.
Uphold and shore me, every place that’s rent.
Have mercy, that this clavicle rejoice.

by Kate Bernadette Benedict

Editor’s Note: Kate told me that “A canticle is a prayer-poem, often based on a Psalm and so it be…” and how could a reader deny the supplication that transcends mere injury and becomes a metaphor for life choices in these lines? The pain is sharp and nagging both, and this poem’s entreaty describes it perfectly.

The Washer at the Ford by Kate Bernadette Benedict

The Washer at the Ford

—from a Celtic Tale

Young man,
if you must cross the river,
cross it here, at the shallows,
at the place of clear water.
Your piebald horse agrees.
She steps forward
to gulp and be slaked.

Why do you rein her?
True, I am not pleasing to look at,
my wild hair no longer black,
my gnarled hands raw
with all this laundering.

You, though!
You are a big handsome fella—
jaw like a sharp crag at Moher,
honey hair,
a goodness about you like honey.
You’ve not been shaving long,
would be my guess,
yet you’re off a’ soldiering.
What war is it this time, then?

On your way, lad.
Don’t bore me.
I’ve no time for questions.
It’s better you don’t know
whose linen it is that wants washing
or why the water around these rocks
runs suddenly red.

by Kate Bernadette Benedict

Editor’s Note: Some poems need context, but since the interwebz lies at our fingertips, it’s the simplest thing in the world to look up that which one does not know. This poem rides on an old story about the bean nighe, and is quite haunting.