Most people have only one skeleton

                                                                                                 by Nadine Ellsworth-Moran
but beneath the first is my second scaffolding
of paper mâché and lacquer, forever attentive,
head tilted; palms pressed in undying prayer.
No hallowed saint, no angel, yet she holds

the holy between her lips, her painted eyes
warywide; I am her ward, her burden, 
her joy. My organs bump up against the walls
of her keeping. Safe. Her presence shepherds
lost atoms of passions that drift
in my murky biosphere.  There are oceans

inside me, deep trenches that have never known
light so they make their own. In these dimmed
currents the syllid fireworms, bobtail squid
and dragonfish school and divide, emanate 
a bioluminescence. My deep-sea inhabitants

swim the vein channels and tissue.  I feel 
them move, their fins fan my blood, glint
and startle causing uneasy ripples 
beneath her painted surface.  She smooths
her prayers over them and they sink into the quiet. 

My hands across my midsection, I know 
when they catch the tide rising from belly to lungs
see the glow warm her frame, her gold robe
softens and flows in folds, the vulnerable

points begin to show.  Those molecules
of luciferin, light-bringers, swim into my joints
and sockets, and every hollow place belongs
to them, each straight path to her. 
                                                                                    ~After Jack Gilbert’s Searching for Pittsburgh

Nadine Ellsworth-Moran lives in Georgia where she serves full time in ministry. She has a passion for writing and is fascinated by the stories of the modern South unfolding all around her as she seeks to bring everyone into conversation around a common table. Her essays and poems have appeared in Interpretation, Ekstasis, Thimble, Emrys, Structo, Kakalak, and Sonic Boom, among others. She lives with her husband and four unrepentant cats.