Saint Apollonia

by Martin Mitchell

                                                     Norton Simon Museum

Because I would not repeat their profanation,
men pulled
my teeth. They pulled
until my mouth matched the black pits
of their eyes.

Now, the young artist
has gifted me
the instrument of my torture.
(This is convention.)

The left hand holds
the forceps, the right
a bicuspid split to its root.

Behind me, in the distance: a walled city, 
grey towers, an orchard.

The gates to the city are open.

People pass through the portal. Peasants, maybe,
hoping to pick
a few last apples from the thinned trees.


Martin Mitchell is the Managing Editor of Poetry Daily and the Programs Manager of The Cheuse Center for International Writers. His poems have appeared in The Threepenny Review, The Raintown Review, and elsewhere. He lives in Alexandria, Virginia.

Image: Sarah J. Sloat

Image description: a collage involving a deep red circle, a green rectangle, and white paper with scalloped shapes cut out. On the bottom, a black and white thin rectangle with a few letters visible.

1 thought on “Saint Apollonia”

  1. I’ve read this poem several times now and am still in awe of the artistry. Powerful work!

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