Thursday, June 14, 2007

Learning to Say Yes

Just tell them I accept. I'm getting tired
of blowing up balloons that sink like stones.
I'm ready now to loose those trailing strings
and watch their multicolored orbs disperse
to fall, sperm-like, out of a barren sky
toward who knows what airless lack of fruition.

I'm ready to accept, accept it all. I'll take
their golden chains, I'll gladly put them on. I'll wear
quite willingly the yoke, I'll pull the plow until
it sinks, until it wedges in the cracks where lack
of rain has broken, even here, the earth's own skin.
My hooves will throw up clouds of yellow smoke, the dust
made ghostly, powdered, like a broken shell.

I'll put on vestments like a village priest
who can't remember now when he believed,
when God flowed through his brain like liquid light
and haloed all creation through his eyes.
I'll stand up at the altar, say the words;
I'll swing the censer and cough on the scent,
Say prayers, baptize and bless, and listen while
the rain rattles the roof, the windows crack;
inside then, safe, I'll snuggle in my bed
all tired and drunk on sacramental wine.
I'll do it, I accept. Go tell them now.

I'll take it now, I will. I'll take the years,
impotent, yes, but sheltered, weak but safe.
I'll black the stars with ink until no light
can filter through, till all those colored dots
have disappeared. I cannot be accused.

I won't be shamed. I'll sow those borrowed fields
whose crops will feed me better than my own
however bitter they may be to reap.
I'll eat and give my thanks, although the grains
of sand wear down my teeth and make them blunt.

I'll swallow bitter bread and sour wine,
approximating ecstasy for show. I'll raise my voice
until, quavered by age and use, it will not
answer more. And even then I'll make the signs,
and croak the words of near-forgotten prayers
to children, widows, new-deflowered brides,
so strongly no one would ever suspect.
All of it, I accept. It would not do
to give those yet faithful a cause for doubt.

So tell them to prepare it. Let them spin
like hypnotists their gold watch on its chain
before my nose. I'll follow, I'll walk straight
for years--this I can do.
And will.

I'll track it like the Magi's star
until that day when, palsied at the edge
of all, I miss my step--

and falling,
snatch it from their hands.

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