I came to my senses on my knees,
pricked by the rough wood, its splinter
ravaging my Sunday stockings held
up by a garter belt that left an impression
round as a tiny foreign coin on my thighs.
And I thought if you got all the way

up the aisle like that, following the Way
of the Cross, fourteen stops, on your knees,
whatever sins had shuddered in your thighs
or burst open in the calyx of your brain would splinter
and be taken up by the wind. The impression
of the face blood, sweat and tears Veronica held

out to the jeering crowds as a miracle held
me through childhood. See, it was real, way
beyond doubt. The priest did an impression
of Pilate that brought the church to their knees.
Later his question about Truth, its splinter
of doubt, came to lodge in my thighs

like the fisherman’s wound. Between those thighs,
first quivering, then unaccountably still, I held
the head of a man, his tongue seeking a splinter,
a small shaft of exquisite delight, the way
of all flesh. Then I bowed my head, got on my knees
to draw him in. And what kind of impression

do you give them, skirts hiked up to your thighs?
But I liked how the Protestant boy on the bus held
his hand there for all to see, his young beard splinter-
ing above his wide, wet mouth, I liked the way
he was going down on his metaphorical knees
to beg me back. Groveling made such an impression

on me. It was almost religious, as some splinter
group, some ecstatic sect, might agree. How impression-
able, the girl-child, mad little mystic. Why weigh
her down now with such analogies? Her thighs
moved to some other music in the morning. I held
her accountable and drove her to her knees

for each splinter of guilt. It was my way
then, the impression I held of holiness:
the god’s buffeted thighs, his broken knees.