May 4, 2012

Penitential

I run my hands blindly over
the rosaries you left behind.
They click together softly, whispering
of loss, remembrance and regret.
They seem to fall into
the Braille of your name,
then tangle, like a necklace twisted
by an impatient hand.

I lose count again. I am on my knees
here in the dark, where nobody can touch me
in pity or violence. I am on my knees.
I pray to the master.
I count again, my lips
moving silently, my mouth
dry as my nights.
*     *     *
I still think I had no choice.
If we carried pieces of one another,
it was not all we carried, and those pieces
were not all we lacked.

We built ourselves from spare
parts we found in junkyards, or stole
from the nightstands of the few
we fooled. We held ourselves together
with glue we made by boiling bones
that were much too broken
to be of any other use.
The cloaks we wore were old, stained,
and old-fashioned. We
would have taken them off, but
we had long ago lost our skin.

We were two teetering spectacles
of fabulous catastrophe,
and people came to look at us, believing
there were great truths in our ugliness.
Maybe there were. But how
could two wrecks lean on one another
without falling apart?
*     *     *
I close my eyes. I huddle deeper
into darkness. I earned this ache.

I do not seek escape. I never really did.

I count the beads again. My punishment
is always to lose count before I find the one
you wrote my name on.

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