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How to Name a Saint - Laura Mulqueen

St. Catherine’s wheel, a spoked consequence of refusing

the marriage proposal of emperor Maxentius, not so

much a proposal as an attempt to save face, having lost control to angelic visitors tending to Catherine’s wounds;

The emperor having ordered the scourging in order to save face after having defeated fifty fine philosophers in debate: a price paid in withholding the mind: he went for body; perhaps based on the murder of Hypatia, though being woman, it’s only the particulars that change. Where legend is

concerned it’s a slow bend of tree branches, murder outstanding only in the unexpected: as in refusal, as in a shattered wheel or elasticity, limbs always

springing back to their original shape, stretched upward in defiance. Though I wonder what Maxentius would have done with her silk-scarred body

had she complied—

if Catherine of Alexandria, virgin martyr, patron

of philosophers and scholars, unmarried women,

had chosen instead to survive—beatified not

unviolated, it seems, is preferred. No doubt her beheading would have been received differently had the wound shed not milk

but blood.


Laura Mulqueen is a technical writer living in Birmingham, Alabama with her son. She earned an MA in English from Auburn University. Laura was awarded the 2019 Robert Hughes Mount Jr. Prize in Poetry by the Academy of American Poets, and her chapbook, “Fear Structure,” was named a semifinalist for the Snowbound Chapbook Prize by Tupelo Press. Her work has appeared in Wilderness House Literary Review and was recently published in In Between Spaces: An Anthology of Disabled Writers.


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