Drinking Sapphire Wine

Katharyn Howd Machan
Drinking Sapphire Wine
She chokes, at first, in this new world
where she’s been imprisoned. Windows
dare to show her air she cannot breathe
without a mask, a loop of wire
connected to some greater power
she’s been told to call God.
Blue her tongue begins to tell her.
Essence of the fullest sky
your fingers tried to touch in childhood.
She sips again. She lets her mouth
embrace the liquid jewel they’ve offered,
these beings without freedom’s wings.
They call her Mary, claim she will
give birth to light, a universe
of love all stars and planets need.
Pour me more she beckons, nodding.
I’ve left behind a life of sand.
Make me shimmer, precious glass.
I’ll be what you say is holy
as I lift this cup with my simple hand.

Katharyn Howd Machan, an enthusiastic professor in the Department of Writing at Ithaca College, has served as coordinator of the Ithaca Community Poets and director of the Feminist Women’s Writing Workshops, Inc. Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines, anthologies, textbooks, and collections (most recently Dark Side of the Spoon from The Moonstone Press in 2022 and A Slow Bottle of Wine, winner of the Jessie Bryce Niles Chapbook Competition, from Comstock Writers, Inc. in 2020), and she has edited three thematic works, including Adrienne Rich: A Tribute Anthology with Split Oak Press. For body and spirit, she belly dances.

Backstory: A character in a novel by Tanith Lee (I cannot recall the title) is given sapphire wine to drink when imprisoned in another world. I pictured it so clearly that I had to write a portrait poem, imagining a different scenario, one that draws upon Christian legend.

Image Credit: Artwork “Mary, Our Hope” [Anthony VanArsdale, https://maryourhope.tumblr.com/]

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