Tuesday, July 28, 2020

In Adoration

I have never been a dragon
Or leviathan or a snake,

Not even an eel or an olm,
But I like to write about them,

To fashion these compositions
That murmur and whisper their names

Because I’ve often been broken,
And my world is broken by days,

And I have taken these pieces
Of bone brittle, crushed vertebrae,

Of little shards of words, and played,
And arranged them in this long snake,

My phony fossil in the clay,
My Piltdown monster, my mammoth

Serpent, tusks pointed the wrong way.
Sometimes, I imagine these bones

As something near the imagery
From Natalie Diaz’s poem,

“Snake Light”—“the snake’s broken body
In adoration,” “whip of ink,”

“Black knots in the air,” “the blue milk
Of an eye.” But that’s not quite right.

Her poem holds the whole snake, blessing
And considering its conceits,

Its muscles and venom, its names
And meanings in the many strands

Of languages—speaking, reading,
Writing—that are her traditions,

That are her life, not mine, that come
From the live stories of her life.

I lack enough feeling for life.
My terms are not muscled but ghosts.

I am a dusty curator
Who pretends to understand bones,

His own and those from long before
Curators, curiosity,

Prayers, traditions of signs, or cures.
I keep no venom, no skins. Sins.

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