How I Discovered Poetry: Laure-Anne Bosselaar

How I Discovered Poetry ~ Laure-Anne Bosselaar

Discovering Rhyme

They came cheap, the Petites Punitions
nuns flung at us for lesser sins: dyslexic
signs of the cross, skipped

confessions, whispers during Silence —
and sentences followed: copy two, ten, twenty
Lord’s Prayers or Hail Marys

on calligraphy paper, cursives
correctly curled, capitals clinging to margins,
black ink for consonants, vowels in red.

The wars I waged in those French
syllables — wanting love-red vowels to win
over habit-black consonants!

I hated hailing Mary, for anything
full of grace shamed me: I was homely,
lumpy, and had never been baptized —

three reasons for perpetual doom:
no sips of our Savior’s red liquor for me,
or tastes of His wan

flesh on my tongue. Banished,
I spent mass in the chapel’s back pews,
bored, counting red stained-

glass pieces over blue, gold
versus green in the west window
where Mary Magdalene

held Christ’s foot to her breast
so tenderly. On drizzly days, slow
raindrops sobbed down

Christ’s flank unto her longing
face­— I loved watching how nothing
distracted her from looking up at Him,

how she let Him quench His gaze
into hers. It was on one of those days
that novices sang a new hymn.

Its melody was rueful, flowed
with long ooo sounds: two words,
amour and toujours

swooned in harmony— it was
new to me: music inside a song, words
could pour melody into a tune —
swoon in harmony like Christ
and Mary Magdalene. I hadn’t heard this
as achingly before.

After that day, I slipped rhymes
in each line of my small punishments:
Hail frail Mary,
blessed art thou now… sounds
crimson with amour, rhyme’s song
pour toujours.

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