The woman with hay, unlit, at her feet
Laughs at the men who, dumbfounded, gape
At this witch that won't die--she stares daggers back.
All, listen to Lucia, the virgin on trial:
"Your oxen are weak, your chains useless!
Only two things can defeat me: my faith,
And observing this pathetic show any longer."
Praise to the woman with blue orbs resting in her palms; with them,
She watches the girls who look out for themselves
and she laughs.
The lady with two gaping holes in her chest
Sleeps deep and well on the men's wooden rack
When she wakes, she turns her face to the heat from their
Hot iron fires, drinking it in like morning sunshine.
She sleeps, and she wakes, and she cries, but only in joy;
And she whispers to the girls with hard iron hands 'round their wrists:
"Daughter, listen to that beat in your breast--a battalion's snare--it transforms
Pain into God's grace and blood into sweet wine."
Praise to the lady with windows to her heart;
She watches her girls sing through their sorrow
and she weeps.
The girl who sits and mends a shirt
Hums to herself the tune of her faith.
She works her needle and thinks how she's named after her Mother--Maria--
And doesn't see his shadow, doesn't yell until she feels him grab her--
The little girl who never knew thirteen, but somehow
Knew her own worth better than some know right from wrong
Prays to her God for those besieged by greedy hands.
Praise to the girl who sits by her God and His Mother and hums, "Alessandro";
She watches girls like her with wills like steel and hearts like songs
and she smiles.
This piece is an allusion to three Catholic saints/martyrs: St. Lucy, St. Agatha, and St. Maria Goretti.
St. Lucy, alive during Diocletian's persecution of Christians, refused to marry a man who pursued her, wanting instead to remain a virgin. The man put her on trial (oh, and he was the judge). According to legend, after finding her guilty, they tried to drag her away by chaining her to oxen, but even then she wouldn't budge. Then, they threw hay at her feet, but it wouldn't light. She told them that her God wouldn't let her die as long as she was faithful; but, eventually, they killed her with daggers/swords. In some stories, a soldier compliments her beautiful eyes; in retaliation, she gouges them out herself. She is often pictured holding her own eyes in her hands or in a dish.
St. Agatha, alive only decades before Lucy, was also persecuted for wanting to remain a virgin in the name of God. In legend, she was arrested and brutally tortured; no matter what they did to her, though, she never cried or asked them to stop--only laughed in joy and thanked her God. As part of her torture, her breasts her removed. She is sometimes pictured with a hole in her chest, showing her ribs and/or heart.
Maria Goretti died in 1902 at the age of 12. She was mending a shirt in her home when she was attacked by her neighbor, Alessandro. He attempted to rape her, but she refused him, telling him it was wrong and a sin. He grabbed a knife and stabbed her several times. She was rushed to a doctor, but she couldn't be saved. On her deathbed, though, she forgave Alessandro for his sin. Maria was canonized in 1950. She is the patron saint of victims of rape.