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2008

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Sister
(For Sister Dianna Ortiz, Guatemala,1989)
Madeline Artenberg

Imagine being that nun,
the one who got burnt with cigarettes
one hundred eleven times.
Can your eyes trace the path
of a cigarette spelling in blisters
on your skin the word puta?
Do you hold your breath
or gasp it into the pain?

Your torturers turn minutes
of foreplay into days—
thrusting church candles into you.
Puta en una capucha,
whore in a habit, they spit,
batter you with their flesh.
You feel as if their organs grow to the size
of the wooden cross on which they nailed Jesus.
Is He testing you
as you testify to your love of Him?

Imagine they now hang you above
a local woman friend who’s been bound;
the one who helped you
in church reading class.
They force into your fists a machete,
press their hands down on yours to slice
the weapon across the woman’s chest -
you’ve cut off her breasts –
you are shaking – the cut is ragged.

Or would you rather imagine being
one of the rapists?
Or their director?
Or the other woman?
Or Jesus?
Or His Father?
Choose.