for the monks
Father Constantine returns
from Mount Athos with ashes.
They are magic, he says, it’s a mystery.
I am thirteen, ready to marry, pledge
my dreams to a monk or nothing.
I want a spouse who can never
appreciate the world in me.
I want a simple man who will leave
his girl for incense, or vespers.
I want his kind in all its variations:
an anchorite or cave-dweller who lives
inside a hole god blew into rock for
no reason; a stylite who perches atop
the capitol of a ruined temple to pray without
ceasing; a dendrite who chains himself
to the upper branches of a massive tree and sings
like a sparrow; a stalagmite who goes
up or grows down, depending
on heaven’s whim.
I want Him to crush me.
I nourish this canyon in my head
for the man in a long black dress
who can’t love me enough.
Alina Stefanescu was born in Romania and lives in Birmingham, Alabama. She serves as Co-Director of PEN Birmingham. Her 2018 debut fiction collection, Every Mask I Tried On, won the Brighthorse Prize and her poetry collection, Defect/or, was a finalist for 2015 Robert Dana Poetry Award. Her writing can be found in diverse journals, including Prairie Schooner, North American Review, FLOCK, Southern Humanities Review, and others. More online at www.alinastefanescuwriter.com or @aliner.