|Apr/May 2002 • Poetry • Special Feature|
Body of St. John
The worts, their blossoms
quick and yellow
flames lit for the dead,
bleed from their leaf-hands
just as Jesus did.
Their martyred weed-bodies
are bottled; they click
like contained lightning
bugs, their separate fires
largely unnoticed, bland
as the waxing moon.
My swallow sends
them on their pilgrimage.
They shed their casings,
then use them as parachutes
to soften the landing,
their feet muddied
black as sin
by the field of my head.
The little once-shelled saints
flutter fast as moth-hearts
as they lay their hands on my pasty
brain and speak in tongues,
awaiting a confession
that will never come to pass.
Our Valentine's weekend is as over and empty
as the red foil wrappers that parachute to my lap.
I smell its finish like fusty chocolate all the way home,
especially when you aim this at me:
I can't go with you on Tuesday
to pick up your new ring-
I might go to a gun show
with Wes and Jason.
Because what is a wife compared to work-friends,
even those two?—the ones you call
balding bed-time buddies, the girl-less
roommates who probably wax each other's asses.
I shift and my red boot collides with the dash.
This is my response. You hate that.
Like the time when I joined our names in the fender-dust
and you yowl-sputtered, Dammit! Don't do that! Permanent scratches!
Our world downshifts, clicks back to normal programming
when the car discharges us. You unlock the house;
the cats graze us like furred bullets and we split
apart to take our places on chair and couch.
I sit in the couch that is the color of my breasts, it sighs
like a mammoth chest when I lose my own body-shape
between its corduroy lips. I watch you from a cave
of cushions in which I am shuttered, camouflaged.
You sit in the armchair that, weeks ago, wolfed my wedding
ring. Your body is cocked into position as you view your gun catalog,
your fingers are finally squeezing something that isn't female, something
that is far harder and deadlier than me, including my trigger-taut thighs.
Our Valentine's weekend was thick and slow, like how accidents happen
when it's you behind the wheel. The only proof of it now is in the chocolate-
delicate marks on my neck, but they are growing fainter; soon
they will be nothing more than chalk-outlines that can't recall who had died.