The Metamorphosis of Saint Rafka

For even as Love crowns you so shall He crucify you.
Even as He is for your growth so is He for your pruning.
—Gibran, The Prophet

Rhymes with Kafka.
         A day after she
prays to suffer as Christ,
she’s half paralyzed,
her left eye, rotten
and tubercular,
shrivels and dies,
        then eruptions
of bumps and boils, the bony hump,
pains that crawl down her legs,
and she bleeds more than thirty
years in adoration of the Lord,
         but she shrinks
with grace into a brittle
carapace, mortified blind
         and curled in bed
like a beetle feigning
death: her tawny back
turned against whatever else
might be hurled her way.
         And here she rests:
left to knit and purl shawls,
socks for the Sisters,
a frock or two, she pulls
more thread from
an interminable skein,
         snaps at it
with her two good teeth,
praying it would break and
she might be allowed to creep
beneath the ground and sleep.

—Mark Kliewer