The Ego To Her Monk

The ego to her monk

To leave home and travel out beyond civilization was a martyrdom

(the word means ‘witness’) death of ego, a self-giving that seems absolute.

Sarah Maitland

And so you bring me here

to witness how:

you live in a hut built of mud and stone,


dine on kelp leaves and water cress floating

among the rocks of St. Kilda,


taste honey sweet off a waxen comb

crafted by bees humming

their own Salve Regina,


write psalms with a plume fallen

off the back of wild goose or swan.


tie your robes with a twist of vine,

and cut your hair when it lengthens past

the burlap collar.


And so you bring me here

to proclaim — that as a temptress born

from your grate of bones,

I will perish.


The turf shall become my tomb

into which I   fall

bowel-deep, my throat consumed

by worm and beetle, its vessel of vain song

diminished —


to the masonry of seed and loam,

the slow fade of sin.


And so I linger here —

an obdurate stare, too shocked

to coax or tremble.



  1. Wendy,

    One of your very best readings that ever I’ve heard. You enhance this superlative poem with your vocal interpretation. I love both the read and the written.

    One line cannot be separated from the others. It is a timeless tapestry wove with golden thread.

    What a joy!!



  2. Wendy, A fascinating poem that is endless to meditation. Really deep in its implications . . . the body and its “angel,” or spirit? This one just engenders reflection. Thanks for writing and posting this.



  3. Wendy, I started to say I like this poem, but I”m not sure those words are right. Not that I dislike it. It makes me wonder how the women did it, over and over.

    “taste honey sweet off a waxen comb crafted by bees humming their own Salve Regina”..I have done that and heard the hive humming when the queen is right.
    Thank you for the details..”the masonry of seed and loam, the slow fade of sin.” I learned to value work: it keeps the body busy.
    Thank you for this poem.


  4. Dear Sarah, Mark and Ptc

    Thank you all so much for taking the time to read and comment on this poem. Your wonderful comments are very much appreciated! This poem came about after reading a fascinating article on the monks/hermits of the early 5th and 6th centuries who traveled into the wild landscape of the Hebrides islands off the coast of Britain/Scotland seeking to purify their souls and connect more closely to God through nature. One of their absolute goals was to separate the mind/heart from the human influence of the ego. I am not even sure myself fully what this poem means; but I was thinking of the man secluded in the middle of nowhere and wrestling with the temptation to give into other desires, pride, feelings of accomplishment, etc. In his hungry/spare state of existence, he hallucinates and sees temptation, his expelled ego, as a feminine entity, like Eve coaxing/tempting Adam to the taste the apple. He hears her speak, letting her say all the things that have made him holy/humble and then forces her to admit she must perish only lingering long enough to realize the inevitability of her passing. Again, I deeply appreciate all of you taking the time to read and comment on this poem!

    My best to you all,


  5. Hi Mark

    You’re the one with the sharp eye here — wonderful observation; and thanks so much for reading and commenting on this poem! I sincerely appreciate it.

    My Best


  6. The poor temptress/ego that must be abandoned
    from the human being.
    Not an easy thing to do.
    Love the details, the sound and images
    of the humble life they will now try and lead.
    Will politics and trying to be the most humble
    still make them fail?

    Enjoyed much.
    take care,


  7. Hi Kerri

    So glad you enjoyed this one and deeply appreciate your wonderful comments. As always, I sincerely appreciate your interest in my poems and your thoughtful reading of them!

    Please take care,
    always my best,


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