He said, “Son of man, eat what is given to you; eat this scroll…”
If you feed me with thin parchment
made from the papyrus of ancient rivers
that green the desert’s edge,
and if you feed me the torn sheets, stained
in sepia from mashed berries of old lands,
and if you feed me the bitter taste
of your commanding, my belly
burning with the acid of your ire,
and if you force me to feed on
the burdens of your heart,
and if I bend over the toilet bowl,
the juices in my stomach churning
on a fevered southern night,
I will be the dry brush
set aflame by your truth.
A man must know when night’s
reflux—the throat burning
with half-digested meals—is the heat
of the spirit blessing his head.
Lord, don’t let me eat your words, no more.
Lord, just can’t eat them words, no more.
From WHEELS (Peepal Tree Press, 2011) by Kwame Dawes. Copyright © 2011 by Kwame Dawes. Used with the permission of Peepal Tree Press.