Saint Consequence

                                     To trust a moon exists,
incandescent distance, is not to glimpse
a garden by the light of it.
                                                  Here now,
thrown against the wall, it makes a ghost
coin. The curtain’s shadow casts a design
like a map you could cover the world in
if you could just line the edges up.
                                                                No
detail is refundable. No icon hauled up
from the past — touch, unbeliever, the peeling-off
face in its gold aureole, and remember

can stare you back there.
                                                  I’d tell myself that
whenever wonder entered, then receded like the shy
drunk boy who didn’t know anyone at the party
stumbling softly down the hallway, late.

I had to assume my experience mattered.
Knew if I could just peel back the clouds
there’d be a grid, or else a rip in the night’s skin
leaking darkness,
                                  but by the time I —
the surgeon performing
the autopsy — arrived, the corpse was
history. Now the scalpel is slippery; how
will I know where to make the cuts?


That boy leaned on a dumpster marked RECYCLABLES
and threw up. It seemed to take him a long time
and the muscles in his thin back tensed, released
with each new heave,
                                         and my hand watched
his shoulder, untouching — lusting for the Y
chromosome nestled in each separate cell — and felt
love. Not for him so much
                                                  as for how an accretion
can make an argument if the grains cluster closely
enough, if the coastline bloats up
as the tide seeps out of it with a low, loud
sucking sound, then rears back to batter
an absence again.
                                      As if they’ve always been
attached that way, the parts.


He asked what god,
if any, I believed in, and the rain paused just like
listening — then went back to ripping, thread by
thread, the sky.
                                     Could I say why I
claw through the dirt for that hard shine
like the other unbeloveds?
                                                  One solid object
wrapped in the newspaper chaos of days to be
opened years later —
                                        as once under a streetlamp my grandmother
pulled the soaked scarf from her throat
full of sharp-edged German words, and sang —
feels like faith. It weighs, won’t lighten.


Read on . . .

The Feast of Saint Francis,” a poem by Madeleine Cravens


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