The Hagiography of Sister Dottyback Devilray
In the second year of my novitiate, they found me floating in the supine position
above the altar in the fish chapel.
All around were disembodied slit eyes which twitched and darted.
They were, someone said, the eyes of sexually excited reptiles.
I used to preach In the river, there are 52 kinds of wishes.
Some of the onlookers fainted;
many made the sign of the fishhook;
a few sang shanties.
Yet still the eyes swarmed, like candiru around chumming.
Everyone thought they would devour me.
So many times I had felt like a sparrow on the verge of flight.
But then the eyes fell prostrate,
tamed, like obedient dogs,
My tits made it necessary to be stern, but not too stern; my penis allowed me
a certain puckishness.
For days afterwards, the chapel reeked of lizard guano.
No one ever saw them again, except me,
for whom they were ubiquitous
as those red and blue birds that lived in the belfry
and sang the hymns Sister Aloysius taught them
and in the same way that Sister A was eventually named
La Patronesse de los Pájaros
I came to be known as
La Virgen de los Flying Lizards.
Charlie Bondhus’s second poetry book, All the Heat We Could Carry, won the 2013 Main Street Rag Award and the 2014 Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry. His work appears in Poetry, The Missouri Review, Columbia Journal, The Bellevue Literary Review, Nimrod, Copper Nickel, and others. He is assistant professor of English at Raritan Valley Community College (NJ) and is the poetry editor at The Good Men Project (goodmenproject.com). He is trans*/genderqueer.
This issue of Chelsea Station was co-edited by
Mitch Kellaway, AJ Sass, and Noah Grabeel.