38 Psaltery & Lyre: Angela Felsted, “Helen Mar Kimball to Joseph Smith”



Helen Mar Kimball to Joseph Smith
(May 1843)

My dress is new, hair brushed smooth.
I approach you as a child (head bent
on the altar of self-sacrifice) I bow
my will, I surrender—but a snake
slithers up my spine, it tickles
my thoughts and whispers—cruel religion,
I have given my body to it, my eyes
cannot search, my mind cannot doubt, my lips
can never question why. Yesterday they
kissed my father, now they honor only you.
If I were permitted selfishness, I’d ask God to
catch a ram inside a thicket, send an angel down
to smite the chains that bind my will.
How I wish my father had said, I sense
the light of your intelligence, I see the colors,
I hear them in my inner ear, violet harp chords,
strident brass—you’re more to me than
a symbol, more than an unblemished lamb.
Lord, I cannot defy the form of death you offer me.
Take my hand and lead me to eternal life.


Angela Felsted is a musician, poet, and nature lover. Her work has appeared in issue fifteen of Drown in Your Own Fears, in Chantarelle’s Notebook, and on her blog. Her chap books, CLEAVE and SCARRED were published in 2012, and her edgy young adult romance, CHASTE, was recently released.


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