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Oyster Shells

Bernadette Geyer

The oyster knows how to keep
a secret, parting its lips
only when boiled alive.

Inflamed by Hypatia’s devotion
to the truth, Cyril and his fanatics
stripped her naked in a church,

scraped the sticky truth of her flesh
from its bones with oyster shells.
They set Hypatia’s still-writhing limbs

on the pyre. Her heresy
left to smolder, the acrid cause
of rationalism dispersed

like so much enlightened smoke
throughout a world
that refused to hold its breath.

Bernadette Geyer

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