Kelli Russell Agodon

Because You Said I Put the Holy in Melancholy


I lit a candle named sorrow
in the church of my body
and my lungs glowed

like paper lanterns I wished would ignite 
the world, but how quickly my breath 
extinguished the flame. 

And when I put on my halo on,
you said, Tilted. You were playing me
like how a boy handles a pinball machine,

all hands and focused on the goal 
of winning. Sometimes I think I’m swallowing
quarters, but when I look on the calendar

I see it’s just days. In a daze, I saw depression 
as a cape of feathers and when I tried 
to fly I heard gospel in my left ventricle wanting

a song. Lost dove. Join me in the confessional, 
we can hold each other and when we leave, 
we’ll dip our wounds in the holy water. 

And those wafers in my pocket?
Let me steal what we need tonight, let me
trust sadness is a hunger I can feed.  

Kelli Russell Agodon’s newest book is Dialogues with Rising Tides from Copper Canyon Press. She is the cofounder of Two Sylvias Press where she works as an editor and book cover designer. Her other books include Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room, Hourglass Museum, The Daily Poet: Day-By-Day Prompts for Your Writing Practice (coauthored with Martha Silano), and Fire on Her Tongue: An Anthology of Contemporary Women’s Poetry. She lives in a sleepy seaside town in Washington State on traditional lands of the Chimacum, Coast Salish, S'Klallam, and Suquamish people where she is an avid paddleboarder and hiker. She teaches at Pacific Lutheran University’s low-res MFA program, the Rainier Writing Workshop. Kelli is currently part of a project between local land trusts and artists to help raise awareness for the preservation of land, ecosystems, and biodiversity called Writing the Land. www.agodon.com / www.twosylviaspress.com
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