As a Transgression of Divine Law

Carolyn Hill-Bjerke


When we lived in the house at the bottom of the slippery slope of sinners,
I was a blind deaf invalid. Some would say I deserved to be that way,
as I represented an error of conception between two motherless souls.
I was Shame in human form.
One day, Satan sidled up to me and said, “You know,
I am going to shove you back up onto the soil away from this sad soul muck you
have shoveled your way into. But, you will have no memory of here, though you will
still live in pieces of your shame.”
“Will I be someone different?” I asked.
“No,” said Satan. “But you will wear a mask and I will allow your broken legs to
stand. I will shatter other parts of you instead. 
“I want you to release me,” I said.  
He did. 

Up the slope I went –
as if my body were lassoed to hell hounds
barking after a rabbit.
They deftly left me naked and crying
at the Social Services office in New Haven
five months into my life. The deserving came
to retrieve the new shiny me and started to swiftly
wipe the sin from my face. They swept the sin straight
into the back of my brain and neatly tucked
chunks of it into my tiny serpent self which nearly burst.
They threw a baby blanket over it. 

But, as I grew the sin came to the surface of myself like pimples I tried to constantly
cover with scarves. Boils of sin left rings around my uterus where Satan had
grabbed me and squeezed –
before I was allowed to live again as this other person I have never met. 


Carolyn Hill-Bjerke

After beginning her poetry career at the 92nd Street Y under the tutelage of poets Molly Peacock and Rachel Wetzsteon, Carolyn attained her MFA at the Columbia University School of the Arts. Carolyn has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and published in literary journals including the Mississippi Review, The Atlanta Review, and the White Pelican. Carolyn has participated in the annual Dante’s Inferno reading at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine for the last 10 years where she once read Canto 10 with George Plimpton. Carolyn works as an agent in the film/advertising business and lives in NYC with her husband, artist Wayne Bjerke, and their daughter, Paige Elizabeth. 


Issue 12

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