Maria S. Picone
| poetry



in seventh grade I learned to pray
in Spanish is rezar

edged like razor,
work & worship,

I learned adoption
was life’s sword:


doubled & edged beatitude
I should give thanks, I learned—



she left her blood
woven throughout. her curse,

benison, her hope, imprecation,
I learned

in high school, Latin cursus:
track, trajectory

swooping back. pendulum
defixio. to fix her, defix her;

to defix her, fix her. gladius,
sword of God, I raise

my voice, recite this oration//erasure,
as taught, to give

praise: gladiolus flower bowing
crimson in the pews. I learned



head bowed, do the work,
the worship: gladius dei. mater dei. kneel before

my saviors; savor gratitude. I learned
what words are twinned:

alma, soul; ala, wing. why cracking
open language never made for you

cleaves, gladius meus,
mater mea: pray, mother,

that you are not made-bad
making bad, not the bad-doer

doing bad works, that your
progeny can narrate, orate,

explain away the curse
with which you leveled

her: swoop of sword, swoop of wing.
ala, alma. ala, 엄마, I learned



magnificat anima mea Dominum,
exultavit spiritus meus in Deo

salutari meo, quia respexit humilitatem
ancillae suae; beatam me dicent omnes.

the swoop of these words,
her same-sided wings,

the rezar of my life,
it cut

Maria S. Picone is a queer Korean American adoptee. She won the 2020 Cream City Review Summer Poetry Prize and grants from Kenyon Review, GrubStreet, The Juniper Institute, and elsewhere. She is Chestnut Review’s managing editor.

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