A chalk outline of the soul

Sister Pascal sketched on the blackboard
a human soul
her impromptu rendition —
which I believed anatomically exact —
shaped like a vertical dog’s bone
but wider at the bottom and more angular.

She dotted it with chalk
which was original sin
then removed each smutch with the duster
which was God’s grace
as manifested in baptism, marriage —
in all the seven sacraments.

That was the year I learnt
how you made words with letters,
imbibed the way their patterns
created sound and meaning, divined
that in spite of this some words
conformed to no rule but their own.

While Sister Pascal taught God’s grace —
the one route to redemption —
as chrism, wedding band,
Eucharist, a small white moon
on a silver salver,
quietly I married the word.

Tricia Dearborn

Listen to Tricia reading ‘A chalk outline of the soul’ (1:35).

Note: ‘A chalk outline of the soul’ originally appeared in Tricia Dearborn, Autobiochemistry (UWA Publishing, 2019). It also appeared in ‘Tricia Dearborn: Six poems from Autobiochemistry’, Rochford Street Review, Issue 26, 2019:1.

© text and audio 2020