After I tell him I’m tired of crashing
into someone else’s desperation, I reach
for you and conquer misplaced loyalty
with a flaming sword taken from my mouth
used to slice rusted fetters that fall at last
then kicked beneath my dress and open
the door for you.
I, a crashing bewilderment coaxed to bed
with whispers of peppermint & lavender.
You, sliding down, saying how good it feels
to be alive. Speak, you tell my body.
I fall to pieces, trembling when you ask
if anyone has ever taken care of me.
There wasn’t any time, I say, struck
by truth while you light animal fat candles;
your clothes fall from on-high before preparing
the altar. What’s it like to be a pagan?
It’s a daily practice, you say–shimmering softness
to anoint with oil, using fingertips to mould me
into something new, pilgrimaging south.
Do you know, you ask, eyes heavenward,
how important the body is? It holds us
perfectly, the way I feel about you now
is wrapped in me, too, how easily I bear
the burden. Something about that makes me
want to hide under covers, not ready to reveal
actual happiness. I’m much better at working
on wellness, not at actually being.
You say, Find a way, then haul me into
the shower to cleanse impurities that have glommed
onto my skin; your nails finding refuge against
my scalp, washing at length the fullness
of my hair, a servant that worships on his knees.
After a hundred Hail Marys, I am blessedly bundled,
the Ark from Mount Sinai tucked against your body
as you whisper foreign prayers into my ear, calling me
sanctified in a language I’ve yet to teach myself.