after the Rembrandt painting

by Ashleigh Kennedy


Why do you want to know

my name? I am

my mother’s son, but here

I am, a scavenger, drinking

these plains of dust

and bone, my footsteps shiftless

as a sojourner, no flesh

of my flesh to call

a home. Yet what

is a body but a land

to ignite, my inheritance

I drink and drown

each night? I rest my head

on graying ground; the land

sucks its teeth at me, its stones a bed

for jackals’ sons. Even my mother

named me deceiver, one

who grasps each hours’ heel. This is

the only river I can fill, and yet

I met a man tonight, my arms lacing

into his sleeves, the earth beneath us holy

and howling as I clutched

what’s mine of a God

who breathes. Oh, to be cradled

and be crushed, his hands nestling

my neck, my hip, crying Bless me,

bless me! as he waxed

my thigh, a new name wrestling on 

my lips.

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