I set you free that night, father. When you came back in that yellow Volkswagen, in that dream. I made a boat of honor for you. Woven of poems and words and not words. I set it on the ocean. Father Obuna said to me, a gift is freely given and a gift is freely returned. It has taken me thirty years to understand this. Yemenya has your heart now. May she be merciful. May she love you. The wound bleeds no more. Which is to say, what I have desired is like salt left out all night and gone. This is not a lamentation, damn it. This is a love song. This is a love song. Like reggae—it all falls on the off beat. If there is a way, it is here. They say you cannot say this in a poem. That you cannot say, love, and mean anything. That you cannot say, soul, and approach heaven. But the sun is no fool, I tell you. It will rise for nothing else.
The New Religion
The body is a nation I have never known.
The pure joy of air: the moment between leaping
from a cliff into the wall of blue below. Like that.
Or to feel the rub of tired lungs against skin-
covered bone, like a hand against the rough of bark.
Like that. "The body is a savage," I said.
For years I said that: the body is a savage.
As if this safety of the mind were virtue
not cowardice. For years I have snubbed
the dark rub of it, said, "I am better, Lord,
I am better," but sometimes, in an unguarded
moment of sun, I remember the cowdung-scent
of my childhood skin thick with dirt and sweat
and the screaming grass.
But this distance I keep is not divine,
for what was Christ if not God's desire
to smell his own armpit? And when I
see him, I know he will smile,
fingers glued to his nose, and say, "Next time
I will send you down as a dog
to taste this pure hunger."