Of This World
Rosaries slipped between knuckles.
Hymns polished teeth like agates
whirling in a rock tumbler's heart.
I've crossed legs, heard the lungs'
thrum—mosquito net-spun organs,
ever expanding. I read the ancients,
cast my verses, baited with breath,
into the Milky Way's muddy current,
watched my neighbor order dozens
of packages in his last weeks, and his
son carry box after box to the dumpster.
On the lake, ducks lead speckled spawn
over algae-veiled waters. Crabapples
hum with bees. Innumerable corpses
are turning to dust. Their names have
fallen out of fashion. I know, I am
one of their number, tickled by gore-
greened grass, squinting up, ever up.
Tides lap another kidnapping victim
ashore. A rag's drawn down a throat.
Teargas canisters arc into the crowd.
Canines blunted by fire, no instinct
insists we tackle weakness, rip out
its throat. But we spark like flint
when struck, step from humanity's
warm huddle, blood on our teeth.
The salon's full at dusk when my sister
comes downstairs. Black braids swing
like ropes and candles cast predictable
haloes. So I slip into the hall closet,
howl at the mention of possession,
mimic the whine of a son lost at birth.
Guests gasp but she's pained, draws
a hand over her forehead. Sunday soon
looms under a steeple-shaped shadow.
Loosening plaits, she glances over
a shoulder, mutters: This has to stop—
you're a year dead. I shatter the mirror
with a glare, pace the hall carpet,
but others arrive by dawn, agitated
by thuribles, syllables scattered from
pulpits, daughters buttoned into pastel.
I spot the infant I'd parroted in the birdbath,
spooked by the hooded figure eyeing our
maid. I catch my sister under the weeping
willow's shade, all red-rimmed eyes
and shawls. She looks right through me.