St. Theodora in the Brothel

They took me to the place
called she-wolf, the place
called offal, the place
called stench. Straw
bit my back; I tasted grit
in the stone bowls of my teeth.
I clawed at the varnish
they had laid on my cheeks—
each muscle in my face
was a new grass blade
pushing through iced soil.
One shoulder was a bruise
to lay on while I used my teeth
to break the strand of beads
around my wrists.
Close, a man’s voice
hissed kindness.
Lark, he said, my fine piece
with a broken wing—
we’ve yet to take the last of you.
Isn’t your hand
a small gift, after all?

Sara Biggs Chaney received her Ph.D. in English in 2008 and currently teaches first-year writing in Dartmouth's Institute for Writing and Rhetoric. Sara's poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in RHINO, [PANK], Columbia Poetry Review, Cider Press Review, Atticus Review, and other places. You can catch up with Sara at her blog: