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Pilgrimage


ISSUE:  Autumn 1997
Led by your father into the cave-
like interior, guided to where the toilet
bowl shimmers like a sacred stone
that must be blessed in a smelly way, you see—

foreign as love songs on the radio—
marks that make your father glow with shame.
What are these things, you wonder
as you do your business: letters scarred

and scratched into the dark wood—dribbling
spouts and spigots, oozing cracks and holes—
a man dropped forward on another
like a wounded cowboy clinging to his horse—

a lady on her back like a beetle,
a black pie-slice where her wee-wee ought
to be? Who are they, and who’s the boy
you dream that night, stepping out of a stall

that reeks of rotten fruit and underwear,
who takes your Goofy tee-shirt
and your Star Wars hat, and thrusts a pocketknife
and a flesh-colored pen into your hands?

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