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An “X”, old fashioned crucifixion
Each arm, each leg strapped down, the ICU,
a morphine drip, a clear tube winding into my arm.
They bored 4 holes into my head, craters.
Their silver tools pricked and prodded,
but still delicate, an insect’s antennae sensing the air.
But there is no air on the moon.
I want to float from these needles and nurses,
the unease of their kind hands.
I am pocked and dead earth,
I can only reflect what is living.
I am not enchantedI am not enchanted
The dreams came but they weren’t dreams
I was awake but I felt hands, fists, the heat of the witch’s oven.
No gingerbread enticed me just stories.
I would rather have the gingerbread,
Candy canes entering my mouth.
So I cut myself, intricate whorls, the meanings of an Irish sacrament
transcribed in ink by monks who believed
an infinite number of angels could dance on the head of a pin
because they are incorporeal, no bodies to hurt.
I cut myself. One night with razors I cut myself so many times,
drew upon myself images, words, curving lines
until I could not move for a day.
Arms, legs, belly enflamed. Someone could have read it.
I was a princess enchanted by pain not sleep,
the rose briers were embedded into my skin.
But it was not enchanted, I was simply an outsider to pleasure.
The fists were meant simply to hurt.
I will be contained. Some hard nut, everything folded,
an organ puzzle that no one can understand.
A knife, a hammer, a machete, nothing will open me now.
The princess and the pea but I am the the hard thing that keeps me awake.
No witch or prince gave me this, I did because I could not forget them.
Not their fault, mine because I am who I am.
A dear friend said rhino ears are diseased apricots.
No they are fringed and delicate, a design of the delightful.
If I could I would seep on their ridged backs,
clutch their horns. We will tell each other stories.
I will not be opened again and their hard hides promise me this.
Snake OilSnake Oil
Snake oil salesman, wagons gaudy with painted alligators and beaming women,
basking in health, cheeks red as the dying sun.
Their voices so sweet and slippery, heavy as honeysuckle
more potent than a preacher who could only promise you heaven.
The hushed crowds listen as pain is promised away,
just take this, take that and heave of living will melt like ice in your mouth.
Morphine, codeine and that old favorite alcohol.
Did the snake give Eve a grape instead of an apple.
But I would rather swallow their serenades of liquids so prettily packaged
then the hospital white sheets of pills, smaller then a rabbit’s eye.
If I must go down the rabbit’s hole, I want to be sung to.
I want taste, a burning throat
a chorus of men in dusty black suits with sun slitted eyes
telling me, “Take this my darling, you will live forever.”
Ding dongDing dong
A burning we will see tonight.
Ding dong the witch is dead,
pussy in the deep dark well.
Harvest a green witch.
Weak is the knife held by the child.
But the Greenman will sew up the chasm
which you planted,
which I plaited
Into a belly of winter wheat.
Do you have to tear?
I have no liking for pain
despite the scars,
despite the seams.
There can be no knowledge without the knife
but did you have to tear?
Above the kneeling angel, a sun dangles,
a ball of yarn. I want to unravel
what they did to me. Mary crosses her arms,
an X of blue cotton. They hung her son
on an X, cedar planks haphazardly nailed together,
no pattern, only
what has already happened.
I want prophecies,
warnings, road signs, a hand that scrawls,
their hands deep inside me,
claw hammers. Under Mary's blue robes,
red cloth drips, the folds gathering
into a puzzle on the floor.
The painter knew the end,
so he shaped the beginning so
there could be no other end,
no, if only I ....could I?
When the angel speaks, Mary dips a finger
into the wine, holds it out for the angel to taste.
This may be the last thing
of the world .... The angel's tongue
wraps around her finger, a string tied tight.
Mary wants to remember the cracked cup,
the wind fluttering like a trapped moth,
the taste sharp as a pinprick in her mouth.
"Chosen," the angel calls. But Mary is listening
to the scrape of an oxen's hooves
as he drags a cart, wheels crunching leaves,
the last thing .... She already knows.
She sniffs her hands: eucalyptus, pungent, crushed,
a bright thread tying her to this world.
"Innocent," the angel says. "No," Mary answers.
The angels want her to die not him.
They pierce his skin
and blanket him with feathers,
a coat of eider, plume, penna, cilium and blood.
They want him to fly with them. He is one of them.
Their veins thread him, hard bright wires.
When she pants and bleeds in labor, they lap at her blood.
It burns, a metallic drunkenness.
The angels whirl as Mary moans and grunts.
He grows and Mary laughs. She dabbles honey
on his tongue and teaches him string games,
a maze of thread where there is no end,
no birth. Even when he bleeds,
the angels know the blood is hers not his.
She tells him the child is not his.
The old women mutter and cluck
as they slap wet cloth against river stones.
He wraps his arms around his chest as though he fears
he will also sprout with child. "A dove,"
he quietly asks? She points to a blood spot
on her cheek. "He pecked me here." It still hurts
when she touches it. It always hurts.
He loves the child, the cuckold's hatchling. He loves his lying wife.
But he knows she lies. When the old men stumble
into the stable, beards matted, coarse as grain,
he simply mutters, "Drunks," bad wine, betrayal.
One afternoon as he saws cedar planks, sawdust thick as pollen,
an angel catches his hatchling as he falls from a branch.
"I shaped the angel out of air," he thinks, so desperate
to believe that a dove pecked his wife, and she swelled with child.
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