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Our Lady of Desperation

by Kate Horowitz

Our Lady of Desperation

for Maggie Nelson; text in the last stanza adapted from Nelson’s Bluets


There is a god

for women like me and god

is a woman like me and




we’ve been so lonely, years

slumped in the pews

hanging curtains of hair

across wet faces: yes,

this is the church of us,


her hands limp and wringing,

hers clench-white and showing bone, mine

finally unfolded, the damp palms up

the nail-crescents vanishing,

the fingers aching, opening,



Yes, this is the curse of us,

we sea-sized sinks

with the stoppers long gone,

we never fully filling, we always drained,


but: awe. Regard


the hymnal, 99 pages

bound in lapis blue.

Our choir, of course,

is awful, all raw throats

and ragged sobs, but our songs, god,

the songs, our songs:


When I was alive, (alive,


I aimed to be

(to be, to be)

a student not of longing

but of light

(light, light,

light, light


A white woman in her thirties leans against a white brick wall. She is looking at the camera and half-smiling.

Kate Horowitz

Kate Horowitz is a poet, essayist, and science writer in Washington, D.C. She writes frequently on love, illness, art, loneliness, and birds. Her work has most recently appeared in Moonchild Magazine, Bright Wall/Dark Room, and Yes, Poetry, where she was featured as Poet of the Month. She tweets @delight_monger and blogs at

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