The Angel Gabriel Visits Mary in Bedlam (Ecce Ancilla Domini!)

by Ellora Sutton

after Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s painting ‘Ecce Ancilla Domini!’

content warning: mental ill health, self-harm suicide


look at the dove   so wide   a suicide against the wall

  wrap it up in the blue cloth   I’ve been keeping it

unwrinkled for such a purpose   long blue tongue of heaven

  little feathers   I want to wash my hair   confession   I sang

the dove in   they’re going to cut my hair for copper coins

  sacrificial blade of my scalp   he comes in and I know

he is flat and naked   his burning ankles   gristle of barbed wire

  they took my bones away   like the dove   lighter than air

I want to wash my hair   he holds out a wired jaw of lilies

  two starburst and one   unbroken   and I tell him       no


Doctor’s Note: she has been speaking in tongues again.


my shift is a grubby devout face over my legs   my knees

  their blue is lunar   he’s still there   his broken jaw in the act

of mending   his hair is so clean   I can’t see the door   its greased handle 

  I can miracle wine from my nose   his lilies are so white they are blue

I tell him     no   and offer him the dove instead   wrapped up

  he smiles   all he wanted   was a little   broken body   a   pale thing

to take all the stains of his mannishness   to char by the sparks

  of his ankles   he swallows the door after himself   the lilies

have some Latin name that cuts my throat to say   open blue window

  there’s a song my mother sang     do you want to hear it