LITURGY FOR FAMILY CIRCLES
Hallelujah for the opera
of an onion—silk and crunch, tear-jerk bulb.
Mom worries about the ways I hurt myself, my stoic
approach to grief. She stops me, chops it herself, gratified
by my watering eyes, small facades of vulnerability. Hallelujah for the cigarette
I don’t want, given by my little brother. I worry about the ways he hurts himself.
I’m gratified by five minutes on the deck standing
close and don’t admit I like him better when he’s high.
Hallelujah for the times he’s sober and unkind. I
think it’s his fault I like my boys saturnine—Adj:
Mysterious. Moody. Gloomy. Orbiting their ontology like clockwork,
like Saturn’s moon-shatter rings. Hallelujah for the teeth that jewel
my baby sisters’ mouths, sharp and clean, that cut into a cold plum
without fussing about the poetics of it. Hallelujah again for the onion
my mother loves on everything, each layer a watery halo
in her assured hands. Hallelujah for friends who understand me, who cut cheap
gin but pool their cash for a bottle of fruity blue Hpnotiq
just because it’s beautiful. I want it all holy—cutting my own hair—
every imprecise and lonely sacrament of dailiness.
And every sharp word. And every fresh cut.
Oh little brother, how long since you
let me cut yours? Autumn, and I rev
the engine of my heart when you teach me to chop wood. Now
do you see me? Blazing in the moment after I almost ax
my toes, the cardiac jolt of near miss that makes me cry Holy—
while you just stand, golden in the slant of afternoon sun, sweaty head haloed with frizz.
Joanna Currey is from Virginia. She holds an MFA in poetry from Vanderbilt University, and previously earned her BA in English and Poetry Writing from the University of Virginia. Her writing revolves around religion, family, and the natural world. Joanna’s writing has appeared in Black Warrior Review, Juxtaprose, Salt Hill, and Alaska Quarterly Review, among others