My beast made of gold is my vocation; it walks with me
and makes a peaceable sound. It has no wings and it has no clay.
I never touch it, if I can help it—though sometimes, knocked
roughly, I brush it by accident. That is when the pain comes
and the great poems cover their famished faces. Which is the true
prison: the church, the garden, the body, or the mind?
My beast doesn’t answer, but I detect a slight modulation
in its earthy hum. I cannot leave it and it, evidently, will
not leave me. I wish I had a cord with which to bind it up. Bless
the rain, which washes the eye clear and remembers nothing
but what we have discarded in the skies. It wraps my golden beast
in its wet hands. I want to return the earth’s broad phylacteries,
which it left in my care. This is the furthest I will get from love
and love’s children, adrift in the blue-eyed grass. My beast
prepares a place for me. It is not the place I wanted, but
I recognize myself in its contagious mysteries. Oh beast surrender
I call into the night’s tight coin. It remains beside me, unblinking.
It is a beast, and I am a man. Together we make our worship.
Copyright © 2018 G. C. Waldrep. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in The Cincinnati Review, Winter 2018.