Katherine Stingley

A Daughter Is A Pilgrim 

​I’ll have to ask to be named
Felicity or Charity
if I want to be
a Puritan girl—the girls
are always with the virtues
in that way. I’ll have
to be a Constance
or a Mercy. I’ll have to work
double. I’ll be a Thankful.
I’ll drive my hands
endlessly for a corn mash.
I’ll lay a thousand
tallows for our winter
candles. I’ll tuck my hair
into a bonnet and forget
its color. I’ll spin
the wheel throughout
the night.

I’ll keep my fevers
from my masters. I’ll spin
the corn mash.
I’ll drive my hands
endlessly into the candle.
I’ll make my wedding
linens and hide them
in a great leather box. I’ll tuck
myself into a great leather
bonnet. I’ll be a Chastity
until I’ll be a Goody. I’ll stitch my hair
into the corner of my wedding
linens. I’ll name my daughter
Hope. She’ll be a Temperance
or a Grace—I’ll have to work
double. I’ll have to spin
my own womb. I’ll have
forty daughters and forty virtues running
at my ankles. I’ll run
out of names for them. I’ll make
my own virtues.

Katherine Stingley is a poet based in Texas. She earned her MFA from Texas State University where she also teaches and serves as the Poetry Editor for Front Porch Journal. In 2017, Katherine was a Juried Poet for the Houston Poetry Fest, where she won the Lorene Pouncey Award. She will return as the Featured Poet in 2018.