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As Flesh Made New Through Burning

ISSUE:  Winter 2017


The gentle tremor that has begun now in my left hand, between thumb and forefinger,
is not history. Its seed lies buried deep in sleep, in the neurochemistry of sleep
which traces its faint salt patterns on the stone of my soul. Stone of my soul,
the formal world is alive with the drained pool’s bracketing moss,
with insect life, with the toadflax and orpine, those useful entities that remind us
how much of a wall the heart may come to conduct, to encompass
and consume. I think of the tremor in my hand as a gentle song, a new hymn
my body has begun. There’s a single cookfire on the open plain; a single eye tends it—
childhood and childhood’s memories of childhood, inspiraling. The tremor,
the hymn in the hand knows nothing of either fire or eye and does not care. Song
has no compassion because through song compassion is woven
from disparate threads. My home was a wall, for a little while; I suckled there,
I brought the hand out of its glass case in the moonlight. I will give thee
the treasures of darkness, I read as the palm spasmed, slow gimel of praise
at 36,000 feet. And the stray stone takes its due place in the wall, to mete
out possession or else keep graves from spilling into the paths of the living. I feel
the cold wattle of roots. Break me, I want to whisper, while beside me
immigrant children compare chipped glyphs in the flickering curvature.
They have tasted a small dream and found it good. To worship the punishment
is banal except when it demands antiphon, response. The eye that tends the campfire
demands a siege, but I am answering the tremor in my hand
with the smallest possible service my damaged vocal cords can muster.
Sleep moves within us like another music I never clearly hear. My house is dark
and tomorrow we separate the lambs from the ewes. I have even learned
to take some pleasure in their crying. Perhaps no sin is greater than this severance.


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Sha'Myra Boyd's picture
Sha'Myra Boyd · 4 years ago

Now this is REAL poetry!


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