She lives in the shadow of her parents’
teachings. From childhood to grown woman,
they fed her God’s pitch for goodness,
and she swallowed all of it.

She has wed herself to chastity,
remote-control television,
and long telephone conversations,
carnal desire as suppressed as light
by a window blind. She only embraces
a mop, the handle of a lawn mower,
the solitude of books. Her goal is to qualify
as a ten on some fictitious biblical scale.

Each night, she drops into the over-stuffed sanctuary
of a warn-out recliner, pulls her bathrobe tighter
against chill of seclusion.

Tonight, before bed, she parts drapes,
peeps out at October rain sparkling in the halo
of a street light. Fingers of water caress
the window, stream downward like cellophane
jail bars.

Tonight, for seconds, she presses palms against glass.
The possibility of a lover shadows in beside her,
but she does not know how to strip herself
of convictions, to free herself from manufactured guilt.
Her flesh trembles. She draws back from the window.
She will not break God’s back by allowing
even an imagined person to lay hands on her.

As if she has done something wrong,
she jerks drapes shut on denial,
boundless shame seeming to emanate
from a church to which she’s never been.