Cleansings by Michael Burch
Walk here among the walking scepters. Learn
inhuman patience. Flesh can only cleave
to bone this tightly if their hearts believe
that G-d is good, and never mind the Urn.
A lentil and a bean might plump their skin
with mothersâ€™ bounteous, soft-dimpled fat
(and call it â€œhealthâ€), might quickly build again
the muscles of dead menfolk. Dream, like that,
and call it courage. Cry, and be deceived,
and so endure. Or burn, made wholly pure.
Oneâ€™s prayer is answered,
â€œgodâ€ thus unbelieved.
No holy pyre thisâ€“deathâ€™s hissing chamber.
Two thousand years agoâ€“a starlit manger,
weird Herodâ€™s cries for vengeance on the meek,
the children slaughtered. Fear, when angels speak,
the prophesies of man.
Do what you "can,"
not what you must, or should.
They call you â€œgood,â€
dead eyes devoid of tears; how shall they speak
except in blankness? Fear, then, how they weep.
Escape the gentle clutching stickfolk. Creep
away in shame to retch and flush away
your vomit from their ashes. Learn to pray.
Originally published by The Neovictorian/Cochlea