Ann V. DeVilbiss American Joan

When the migraines come

it is like a halo hammered

into my skull, the rattle

of a goldleaf saw drawn

over frayed nerves.


Then the visions enter,

thin snakes winding through

my cracked bedroom window,

scaled bodies lofted so their

bare heads brush the low ceiling.


Their voices are trumpets,

full of prophecy and

brassy blaring tumble.

They tell me what will happen,

say fear not, fear not.


Preacher says women like me

were meant for shuttered rooms,

for breaking work and hunger,

for silence or the whip.


If he shuts me in the attic,

I will use my matches;

if he locks me up,

this church will burn.


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