Darkly Devotions

Lyric prose meditations that play with elements from evangelical Christianity, Buddhism, yoga, reiki, Tarot and “weird voodoo shit.”

~by Cindy Clem


Opening exercise: Make yourself a batch of raisin cakes and write a poem for your lover, or the lover you wish you had, or for yourself. Include these words or phrases:
• curtains
• little goats
• leaping
• the mountains of [your favorite mountainous region]
• battlement
• leopards
• ruddy
• shorn sheep
• garden of nuts

Today’s passage: Excerpts from the Song of Solomon, a two page love story featuring The Shulamite and The Beloved (probably King Solomon). It’s tucked away between Ecclesiastes and Isaiah, yet probably the most well-known part of the Bible and one that young Christian girls whose parents have made them replace their overly-erotic Barbies with Strawberry Shortcake dolls read in secret, alone in their rooms, despite not understanding more than half of the references.

The Shulamite
My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blooms in the vineyards of En Gedi.

Sustain me with cakes of raisins, refresh me with apples, for I am lovesick.
His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me.

Awake, O north wind, and come, O south! Blow upon my garden, that its spices may flow out. Let my beloved come to his garden and eat its pleasant fruits.

The Beloved
How fair and how pleasant you are, O love, with your delights! This stature of yours is like a palm tree, and your breasts like its clusters. I said, “I will go up to the palm tree, I will take hold of its branches.”

Let now your breasts be like clusters of the vine, the fragrance of your breath like apples, and the roof of your mouth like the best wine.


Explication: none necessary. But of course scholars explicate anyway, scrambling to reduce eroticism to its driest parts. Some say that the Song of Songs allegorizes God’s love for the church, which seems ridiculous and kind of gross. Some sad souls say that it teaches us to reserve erotic love for heterosexual marriage. Solomon, by the way, had 700 wives and 300 concubines.

Closing exercise: On Valentine’s Day, drink wine. Eat apples. Lick the roof of your mouth. Moan a little. Buy two clusters of grapes. Take hold of them. Say, breathily, “I have taken hold of them.”


Cindy Clem received her MFA in poetry in 2005 and has been writing non-fiction ever since. Her poems and essays have appeared (magically!) in Mid-American Review, The Normal School, Prairie Schooner, Memoir (and), Superstition Review, The Interrobang, Spittoon, and Michigan Quarterly Review (forthcoming).