Poet Wrestling with Atonement

So I turn you into a horse but you are jealous of that horse.

& so you’ve chosen to die.

                                                      Or rather: the horse will not
not be skinned. There. {There.} Feel better. Next year
I’ll teach you to swim & you’ll carry us north
for wintertime.

                                            So I turn you into
a horse, a water horse, with sealskin & steely
fins that never tire, but still you are jealous
of some distant & parched mire
                 wanting to bury me
                              in a rusted flask.

                                  Wanting all my bare skin
                                                   skunned in wineflesh.

                                                                                      As proof

                       of first horse-&-human debt,
                                                                           unborn seed
                                       far away from smokeless winter
                                                      chimney & singed


                                                to the curb.

                                                                               & even if we’d return
                                                   {minutes} before the world’s end, still

I’d turn you into a horse who would die
             dying for the music.

                                    Underneath ivory
                        tabernacle, under holy child.

                                                      & still you lament the tusk
                                             warped into wings,

                       the horns hammered for organ keys.

& now you’re a songless thing tearing through
the middle of this horse, who(m) if I don’t finish,
will be left swimming
            in loose folds of ocean
                         for eternity

                              —so I turn you into a horse

& you say the ice is not a place for sacrifice.

So I turn you into {a horse} & you say: turn me

into a drop of rain & I swear by the skun

of our sins you& I

           will never see land again. 


Copyright © 2018 Rosebud Ben-Oni. This poem originally appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review. Used with permission of the author.