"Saint Lulu of the Vagina" in Museum of Northwest Art
Saint Lulu of the Vagina
~ekphrastic of Patty Detzer’s Saint Lulu, 1996 sculpture
I see my right eye reflected in Saint Lulu’s vagina.
Mirroring my own—gone out with the tide,
an anemone spitting sand, slush of sea.
When a saint cries underwater are there tears?
I salt the snails, watch them spit and curl.
It is a small act to protect my big-headed dahlias.
I left the gate wide open and the man that came
peered into my vagina, saw himself as a man
taking me like a token, a shell pocketed
on a low tide. For a snail, a shell is home.
I thought it was my home, safely bordered
by a fence of shells blooming beneath nasturtiums.
If I were Saint Lulu (and maybe I am), I’d wear shells
like armor—conch over my heart, coral at my belly,
oysters belting my hips. Would I be more powerful?
Saint Lulu’s black eyes never blink, forever open.
Before forever, my shucked vagina closed
like an anemone. Each tide washing it clean
until it birthed child after child after child—
cradled in blood and brine. I prayed
to Saint Lulu of the Seashells to protect
these little creatures I had made.
She keeps her vows even as tears vein
her cheeks, a spider shell crawls up her throat.