Poetry, spirit

Enemy’s Prayer


Knee deep in it. Gold like sable, like suede.
Like the silk edge of the blanket that held infant you.
A mermaid’s tail, the otter’s fur slipping past
and churning against your calf
a strand of stars and all the fire they contain,
the heat they release.
At your feet this river
of light.

Into your skin through fissures it pours.
You have never been solid.
You began fluid, the gasp for breath
only after that long stretch suspended in a pocket aquatic,
bloodwarm and aloft.
It carries you even as you stand something like still
in its living, teeming watersong
a place you begin and always return.
You stand
in this sacred flashing current
filling up from below
and you watch
as he breaches the borderlines.
Combs the banks.
Engine growling, tearing up the saltgrass and reed
estimates the share price
swings his calculus upstream
determining how to erect the dam
choke off your source
strip the ore
and sell your bones for profit.

You have this moment
to stand.
Look him right in the place
where eyes should be,
see the wasps nesting in the hollows.
The buzzing in your ears turns to screaming
the longer you look.
The closer he comes.
How you ache to hit the note that spiderwebs
across his shell and shatters him
into the thousand many legged things that skitter back
to the caves and gutters where they hatched
and experience a mass extinction.
You marvel at your range.
You didn’t know you could compose
such a symphony of hate.

Who could blame you? The voice that jams the signals.
The jowls, the grin, the omnipresent noise of him
on all the screens on all the walls,
rail cars and sports bars, Whole Foods, waiting rooms, the lobby, the gym.
Today, this week, last, now and forever.
The fiend who howls in triumph after hawking another parcel of the holy,
who grabs the hands of clocks and yanks them backwards
then celebrates
by salting the earth.

You have this moment
to stand
with him so close, right there before you
an inch or less, his stink of creosote and chemical waste
mixing with your own sulfurous rage,
the sting almost too much.

You have this moment
to steady yourself.
To stay.
Take his face in your hand
hold him as you would the gift of an egg just laid
in the nest of your palm.
Peer into exactly what he is.
Then without breaking your gaze
bend and scoop one precious handful
of the thrumming golden stuff
that swims through and under you, that holds you
to your source. One handful before it runs free
from your fingers
press it into the valley
just under his breastbone,
the soft place where breath begins.
Even his.
Release your grip. Seal the edges.
Press one share from this river of light
into him.

This is your prayer. The way you gaze into the face
of the one who would rather see you dead
if he even sees you at all
and to decide
that your vision is stronger.
Call it precognition,
foolish, childish, magical imagining
of a possible future
when he is drawn at long last into this current
and joins life’s song.

Image: Avri Ohana, Mirror

9 thoughts on “Enemy’s Prayer”

  1. Hmmm . . . beautiful word imagery. But I’m just too much of a Luddite to glean much meaning here. I can’t decide what this is about.

      1. I mean, as much as a poem is “about” anything. The reader might make an entirely different meaning from the images. So what I should ask is, what is it about to you?

  2. Shannon, thank you for the additional info. And I really enjoyed your very expressive “performance” of the poem tonight. [You are a very dynamic and engaging performance artist.] So it is now somewhat more clear to me that these words are important and meaningful to you. And I think that I have a better idea from your explanation tonight regarding what this poem is “about”. Do you care whether the reader (or observer of your excellent reading) of the poem “gets” what the poem is “about”? You create some really beautiful word pictures. You are a very sharp observer of the world; you note the important details; and you describe them in surprisingly accurate and fresh ways. [Don’t let it go to your head but, honestly, your knowledge of art, literature, painting, photography, etc.. is really impressive.] But sometimes less is more. I accept that sometimes an artist just “puts it out there” and to hell with what others think . . . but it is possible that a more disciplined, focused approach might pull the reader in a little more and help the reader to see and appreciate more of what you feel. Of course, all that takes is your TIME . . . something that none of us have enough of. In any case, your work is really nice to read. Thanks!!

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