I wait for the pity to take effect.
It comes in a pill like a jewel
one only wears to church. It comes
like the fish killed to measure
the depth of the river. It comes
as a voice filled like a glass
with all the forgery such animals
can drink. They see themselves
in it. They mistake themselves
for gods, with the stars in the background
erased. They mistake themselves for
women who dance like half-moths
at the sill. Tense with it, I wait.
The pity begins to take effect.
The darknesses inside me shape,
like a village of soldiers asleep
in a horse. Armed to the teeth.
Armed with such faith.
The little flame begins in me.
I feel it like a bride. I feel it
like drops of blood in the snow.
My skin changes with the suffering
of others. My skin grows changed
with the process of awake.
I love the leap and the touch of day
as it hunts me from the window.
Summer takes effect. A crash
of poppies. The mowed fields like
a smother of elegies. I sip at
the photograph I make sitting
silent, crying someone else’s pain,
my name forgotten, my mouth
a fat remember always saying what
it wants, nerve endings mapping all that’s
offstage as reactions disaster my face.
And the blood is a mad or a fast fast thing.
And the black sing of wind huge against the pane.
Small marrow of wind not wishing us well.
The herds because, by now, the miraculous
are beasts. The loss because we weep.
The long hair of a girl. The slow and blind decay.
Rows of infinite rain blossoming to sound,
gone to husk over the long summer’s seed.
Rows of weeds cracked like bracken lips:
shepherds ending where the wolves begin.
It takes breath to say this kind of stink.
It takes all we remember to know what
we think. No one walks the land behind
the house. No one reads by the light
between cracks. No one is a passenger.
No one knows what such elegy means.
No one in the dancehall can remember
the name of the one they hold, no one
knows the wind has changed, no one knows
the priest has locked the door to the church
and the last of the whiskey was drunk last week.