by Martha Silano
belts out Cyndi Lauper, but it could’ve just as easily
been Saint Teresa of Avila crooning for Jesus:
nothing replaces the feeling between me and you.
Teresa, Spanish mystic, Roman Catholic reformer
so inflamed no amount of holy water could douse her,
restoring devoutness, replacing laxity–extended leaves,
daily flirtatious visitations, coiffed do’s beneath jaunty habits—
with obligatory decalceation, weekly flagellation. Doctor
of Prayer, whose let me suffer or let me die uncannily resembles
until the end there is no end. Lauper, too, revising scripture,
reworking misogynistic, please-your-man mantras
with Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. A handful of centuries,
several reformations and revolutions between them—
many permutations in the meaning of hip, game, loose—
but each knew the value of quietude, Teresa sequestered
five years, emerging with her four-point plan for ascension,
Lauper disappearing into the woods to find herself; both self-
proclaimed eroticists—Teresa, stabbed in the entrails
by an angel with a flame-tipped spear, moaning God God God,
Lauper in the nude, panting she can’t stop messing
with the danger zone. Both so swept up in their passions
they nearly derailed their crescendos–Lauper’s voice shot
from belting out “Stairway to Heaven” (three doctors swore
she’d never sing again), the young Teresa fleeing to the Moors,
contracting malaria, falling into a coma so deep, loved ones
dug her grave. Rebellious, tearful awakeners immortalized—
Teresa in Bernini’s floating marble, Cyndi on YouTube.
I won’t worry and I won’t fret, there ain’t no law against it
yet, the Queens’ rock diva intones, Teresa back-up she-
bopping, devotionally ecstatic, brandishing her rod and whip.
MARTHA SILANO’S books include Gravity Assist, Reckless Lovely, and The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception, all from Saturnalia Books. She is also co-author of The Daily Poet: Day-by-Day Prompts for Your Writing Practice (Two Sylvias Press). Martha’s poems have appeared in Poetry, Paris Review, and American Poetry Review, among others. Awards include North American Review’s James Hearst Poetry Prize and The Cincinnati Review’s Robert and Adele Schiff Poetry Prize. She teaches at Bellevue College.
Photo: “The Ecstasy of St. Teresa” by Lawrence OP