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Lise Goett

By This Poet

1

Conversion

All day, we loitered at the throat of the penny arcade
to hear how the fisherman's cast had taken the eye of Vilas
Puchomsky, a pain radiating down to the sexual curve.
Girls who had been prom queens, corsages of gallica roses
with crowning pink buds pinned to our blouses, teetered
on lives of uncloistered want to hear how the hook
had entered the pulp, tearing the flesh like a litchi nut
with the force of a swift and ready conversion. 

At dusk, the fly-speckled marquee flickered with inconstant
      love;
and our boys suckled long-necked colas and pilsners,
and we asked them to hug us all the tighter while the nuns 
      sang
from the hill, "Le Dieu Qui Nous Aime Bien," for it seemed
that the boy's name had called his fate into the world,
the line cutting through the air like the wing of a hawk,
his face buried in a shirt of bruised muslin.
And later, over the cracked and rutted road home, his story
came to us like a voice speaking from behind a steel grate,
a blue light hovering above the lake's teal horizon.

One day at school, he removed his eye and touched us,
tiered like the blessed and the damned in the bleachers
behind the parochial school, the glass eye sucking our arms
where lips might have gone, a touch like benediction--
a taste of terror with some pleasure in it, a pleasure
already sown with remorse and the seeds of turning away.

But at night, we prayed to a god with a foraging heart,
a god with a silvering face, rippling his luminous skin--
the line gilt along the line's trajectory, the plummet like shot--
thinking how grace must enter the body like this
as we slipped out under the nameless bowl of stars
to feel the hunger of our own darkness:
the sweep and whisper of the line,
the suck and gape of the eyeless socket,
the god who reels us in.