He sat cross-legged, weeping on the steps when Mom unlocked and opened the front door. O God, he said, O God. He wants to kill me, Mom. When Mom unlocked and opened the front door at 3 a.m., she was in her nightgown, Dad was asleep. He wants to kill me, he told her, looking over his shoulder. 3 a.m. and in her nightgown, Dad asleep, What's going on? she asked, Who wants to kill you? He looked over his shoulder. The devil does. Look at him, over there. She asked, What are you on? Who wants to kill you? The sky wasn't black or blue but the green of a dying night. The devil, look at him, over there. He pointed to the corner house. The sky wasn't black or blue but the dying green of night. Stars had closed their eyes or sheathed their knives. My brother pointed to the corner house. His lips flickered with sores. Stars had closed their eyes or sheathed their knives. O God, I can see the tail, he said, O God, look. Mom winced at the sores on his lips. It's sticking out from behind the house. O God, see the tail, he said, Look at the goddamned tail. He sat cross-legged, weeping on the front steps. Mom finally saw it, a hellish vision, my brother. O God, O God, she said.
These Hands, If Not Gods
Haven’t they moved like rivers—
like Glory, like light—
over the seven days of your body?
And wasn’t that good?
Them at your hips—
isn’t this what God felt when he pressed together
the first Beloved: Everything.
Fever. Vapor. Atman. Pulsus. Finally,
a sin worth hurting for. Finally, a sweet, a
You are mine.
It is hard not to have faith in this:
from the blue-brown clay of night
these two potters crushed and smoothed you
into being—grind, then curve—built your form up—
atlas of bone, fields of muscle,
one breast a fig tree, the other a nightingale,
both Morning and Evening.
O, the beautiful making they do—
of trigger and carve, suffering and stars—
Aren’t they, too, the dark carpenters
of your small church? Have they not burned
on the altar of your belly, eaten the bread
of your thighs, broke you to wine, to ichor,
to nectareous feast?
Haven’t they riveted your wrists, haven’t they
had you at your knees?
And when these hands touched your throat,
showed you how to take the apple and the rib,
how to slip a thumb into your mouth and taste it all,
didn’t you sing out their ninety-nine names—
Zahir, Aleph, Hands-time-seven,
Sphinx, Leonids, locomotura,
Rubidium, August, and September—
And when you cried out, O, Prometheans,
didn’t they bring fire?
These hands, if not gods, then why
when you have come to me, and I have returned you
to that from which you came—bright mud, mineral-salt—
why then do you whisper O, my Hecatonchire. My Centimani.
My hundred-handed one?