Purse be full again, or else must I die. This is the wish the trees in hell’s seventh circle lacked, bark ripped by monstrous dogs, bleeding from each wound. We see them languid there, the lightened purse a demon drug. Less, less. At the canal, the dog loops trees in a figure eight — a cacophony of insects under sun. A man against a tree nods off. Let there be no sandwich for the empty purse. Let there be no raiment for someone skint. Let blood run out, let the currency remove. Let that which troubles trouble not. My father in the driveway. Legs splayed behind him. Pail beside him. Sorting handfuls of gravel by shade and size. One way to calm a pecker, compensate for stash. Dad! I lied. The man shifts by the tree and now grace is upon him. The slant of sun picks up the coins dropped by travelers and — lo! — grace enables him to see. The demon dog fresh off an eight barks, too, standing, struck by the man, by the coins, barks at their glare; the man reaches in scrim at the glint in the light and thinks Another malt. The flesh is willing, the spirit spent, the cloud passes over — relief is not what you think, not the light. Regard the barking dog now tugging at the dead man’s leg becoming bark. You be my life, you be my heart’s guide, you be the provision providing more, you be the blood — stanch the sore! — you be failing proportion (mete) . . . Steward of gravel squints up at the girl who is me. What? defensively. Out of the east woods, a foaming raccoon spills. Palmolive executive? Palmolive customer? Palm’s stony olives on the embankment of limestone or soapstone or shale. Leg of the man clamped in the dog’s mouth. Mouth of the man open and unmoved. Voice of the man: Three dolls sat within a wood, and stared, and wet when it rained into their kewpie mouths. They were mine to remonstrate to the trees at large, the catalpas and the fir, the sugar maples in the glade turning gold. To each is given, one doll began, so I had to turn her off. Consider how it was for me — Flash of the arrow and the foam falls down. Three balletists ignoring pliés bound onto the long lawn and its canalward slope. I am underwater and they haze in the light, mouth but do not sound. In the arrow’s blink they start. Decimal as piercing of the line — Table as imposition of the grid — Sum as heuristic apoplex — Columns in honeysuckle cents — or not. Just this transpired. Against a tree I swooned and fell, and water seeped into my shoe, and a dream began to grow in me. Or despair, and so I chose the dream. And while I slept, I was being fed, and clothed, addressed — as though awake with every faculty, and so it went. Then: blaze, blare of sun after years uncounted, and synesthesia of it and sound, the junco’s chirp and then the jay’s torn caw, arc of trucks on the distant interstate, your what the fuck and then her call. Beside me, pinned to a green leaf, in plastic and neat hand, a full account. I had indeed still lived, and been woke for more. So, weeping then, I rose.
Susan Wheeler - 1955-
Charity Must Abide Call for Ancient Occupation
Red barn, still house, shimmering heat. Brown barn, air in rain, green smell. I climbed the hill to volunteer my hands: O works that we may walk in. The rodent's toe in the pinecone cell, the brackish bag with its damp wax gel, beside the fence links, glinting. One was spending one hundred thirteen degrees supporting the basic initiative, in his trailer, terminally wounded in Congress, waiting for sunset so he could sound alarms about its ability to spend hours putting temporary fences, implementing, nondiscriminatory, not only his sheep when it comes to gays but, when it comes to all their dogs in holes they had dug to religious faiths, under trailers, to groups providing government-funded, blistering heat. And one, Solomon, solemn one, puled, She, initiate in the knowledge of Him, co-creator in His works, I determined to take her to live with me, for if we want riches in life, what be greater bounty than the knowledge that triggers all things? I waited on that corner until the yelling began, the sharp horn, the crumpling steel —— until the songbirds swooped in like carrion, into the funnel of charitable provisions, sounding the alarm in a surfeit of ours, initiates, faith based in moneylenders' lairs. I credited their flight. Wrung charity. But the wing flapping went on in the heat. In the hour before sunrise the wet & swift wings ceased. Should there be, I thought, a mandible for each? A Dolly for each Sofia? Faith entering the breach? Still air, expectant, dark. The legalese. From one I will expect, before earth us takes, Staff, and thermos, crazed. Deafening heat.