The History of the First Holy Door

It is unhinged and wrapped in white cloth

its two thousand pounds lifted and laid out, taken to the basement of the Vatican

it is stored in a dark room and never visited

it is stored in a dark room and forgotten

for safekeeping for interest for further investigation and posterity

for ten years it stands in a pope’s chamber and, fingers wet with saliva, he rubs the glowing feet of his own Mary

it is bought and sold seventeen times in secret auctions

it is bid on by women in veils and through video monitors

it is hung in the bedroom of a Chinese industrialist and his new bride

they make love in its shadow

they strangle each other in its shadow

it is nailed open

its history is wiped clean from the Internet

not a photo not a line written of its openings and closings

it is melted down and its body poured into door handles and cups




Sarah Wetzel is the author of River Electric with Light, which won the AROHO Poetry Publication Prize (published 2015) and Bathsheba Transatlantic, which won the Philip Levine Prize for Poetry (published 2010). Traveling between Manhattan, Rome, and Tel Aviv, Sarah also teaches creative writing at The American University of Rome.
You can read more of her work at