& various martyrs especially
in mortal agony. Not the idealized visions,
stigmata like decorative stickers. The nearly
dead bodies, wounds gaping to show red flesh.
Ribs visible like incomplete ships, veins bulging
in thin feet with dirty soles. His slumped body
painted white and gray. Or carved in
ivory, real silver nails driven through. Sebastian,
the skin of one knee somehow peeled off
by an arrow. Stephen carrying a jagged stone
as big as his head—imagine their sudden impact.

& I an atheist raised by atheists. Pain is unbearably
interesting. Extremes
fascinate, as serial killers
& cults & hummingbirds
& deserts fascinate. The fascination
for what I think will never happen
to me.

 “My mother loves art, and I, being the type of child who read anything and everything in the house, grew up accidentally knowing a lot about art history and saint symbolism. I loved morbid details like Peter’s upside down cross and Catherine’s wheel. When I went to the Phoenix Art Museum for the first time, I found myself gravitating towards Christian paintings and started wondering why I was so interested in them when I’m not religious in any way. I concluded that I must be fascinated by depictions of physical agony and the unfamiliar.”

Sue Hyon Bae is an MFA candidate at Arizona State University. She grew up in South Korea, Malaysia, and Texas. Her work has been published in Please Hold Magazine, Silver Birch Press, and others.

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