Saint Agatha in the Psych Ward
by Caitlin Irish
TW// blood, death, sexual assault
Given the choice of defilement or faith, Saint Agatha chose
her Lord. She took great courage and never wavered
in the face of persecution.
Before the judge, I am told
to obey, take my rightful place
on my knees.
Tears falling steady, my fingertips shake
as I stiffen my spine in defiance.
This is my sentence for loving my God.
He does not come to my rescue.
One of the tortures she endured was the excision
of her breasts. Still, she did not lose her faith, only growing
The barren skin where my breasts used to be
clings to this hospital gown.
The nurses give me non-slip socks.
It is more than He ever sent.
She is one of many virgins named
in the Canon of the Mass.
They hallowed my months
of arduous torture, made pastries
of my womanhood.
Paintings of the moment I see in my nightmares
hang in every cathedral.
We all know my pain means nothing to no one
as long as my hymen is intact.
Though the date is unknown, she is thought to have died
in 251 AD.
I was only a child.
You allowed this to happen.
This is not what I thought love to be.
Saint Agatha, pray for us.
Do not send me your prayers.
Do not call me a martyr.
I did not want to die.
Caitlin is a newly graduated psych nurse with a passion for mental health and wellness. She has previously been published in Renaissance Review, OC87 Recovery Diaries, and Auxocardia Journal. In her free time, she can be found reading, querying her first novel, and playing with her pet hedgehog, Bobbin.