Boil it down: feet, skin, gristle, bones, vertebrae, heart muscle, boil it down, skim, and boil again, dreams, history, add them and boil again, boil and skim in closed cauldrons, boil your horse, his hooves, the runned-over dog you loved, the girl by the pencil sharpener who looked at you, looked away, boil that for hours, render it down, take more from the top as more settles to the bottom, the heavier, the denser, throw in ache and sperm, and a bead of sweat that slid from your armpit to your waist as you sat stiff-backed before a test, turn up the fire, boil and skim, boil some more, add a fever and the virus that blinded an eye, now's the time to add guilt and fear, throw logs on the fire, coal, gasoline, throw two goldfish in the pot (their swim bladders used for "clearing"), boil and boil, render it down and distill, concentrate that for which there is no other use at all, boil it down, down, then stir it with rosewater, that which is now one dense, fatty, scented red essence which you smear on your lips and go forth to plant as many kisses upon the world as the world can bear!
From The Cradle Place by Thomas Lux. Copyright © 2004 by Thomas Lux. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.