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The Pharmakos


ISSUE:  Summer 2009

Your parents leave you with the roots
Of their own lives in your hand,
You who with your own life pulled their life up,
Dirt falling from the onion’s bulb
Back into dirt. Ritual in the morning light
Each generation repeats, muscle
Strong at other’s expense, supple limbs
Fattened on another’s labor, an essence
Grown larger than the body that was your source.
Why must the seed begin inside the blossom?
Why must the wind arrive, stirring dust
Into flute music, breath pushed through lips
No longer lips, a reed, a reed of wild grass
That lines the road, slight quaver in the song
When your leg brushes against the stalk,
You keep time to your own pace, striking
Your back with the onion bulb, whipping
Your back with the roots in your hand, dirt
Falling back on the dirt, arch of foot to road,
You walk, amid music no one plays, you walk
Away from the lives that cast you out,
That exiled you by loving you, you walk
With your shadow behind you, pointing home,
The sun rising in the west for some of us all.

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