The Virgin Mary Burns a Self-Portrait in Toast by Anna Ralls

The Virgin Mary Burns a Self-Portrait in Toast

I imagine the churches, their

pageants, their individual respective

marys, wearing blue

atop pale skin.  I pulled this strip

of barbed wire out of my bare heel

after a walk across the lawn.  I tap it

with my finger, and chip away

another crumb.  I think

of these midwestern marys, so

very new, like crisp corn.  Maybe a strand

of hair peeks out from a white head covering,

and it’s blonde, always blonde, or maybe

with a touch of strawberry,

like that willowy girl in Missouri who at sixteen is cast

as Mary for Christmas while her older sister, two inches shorter,

thirty-five pounds heavier, with auburn hair kept pixie cut,

picks with her fingernails at a wart on her right thumb.

I laugh, imagining them,

as I twist the wire,

burn my face darker

.                               into coarse bread.

About the Poet

Anna D. Ralls is an emerging writer from Columbia, MO. She is a graduate student at Oxford University, and her works are forthcoming or previously published in Contrary, Atticus, and Colorado Review. She currently lives in Bloomington, IN, and loves to spend her spare time singing opera with her husband.