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Condon’s debut collection of poetry

was selected by Marcus Jackson as the winner of the Charles B. Wheeler Poetry Prize and will be published by Ohio State University Press in 2020.

If you’re interested in reviewing Praying Naked, contact Katie at katiecondon2 [at] gmail [dot] com.


 

Praying Naked

I’ve never let a man love me
without feeling very Mary Magdalene about it.

Just the other night I was dancing with a friend
of a friend & he got handsy & I got servant-minded

letting him move his grip from my waist to my hips
& lower, while a Motown bass boomed through the opaque

& sweaty darkness. It wasn’t guilt I felt
when I decided I was obliged to let him

explore the finer points of my swaying
body. Maybe it was loneliness. Maybe

it was my own desire to be desired, since, if a man
wants me, I know I have at least a little worth left.

Or it’s payback for the hours I spent treating
every bead on the rosary as the Virgin Mary’s nipples,

pressing each one to my mouth
& murmuring her own prayer over them.

If I have offended the Lord
in my manner of worship, then the Lord

should not have made women so beautiful.
Look at us. Even when we are stripped

of our bodies—reduced to prayers & beads, shadows
the music rubs its hum against—even then

we are gorgeous. & even then we are unsure

of our worth. Lord, if you will not let me exist
without shame at least leave me while I whisper 

over my blessed mother’s naked body
the words you said would save me.

originally published by Narrative Magazine.