31 October 2004

Carol Peters

My Transgression Is Sealed Up in a Bag
         —Job 14:17

when the eye saw me

I was a child and dirty—
beetles’ legs stuck to my lips, I sat tasting the dust of earth
outside the door of the Pittsburgh house where family
struggled to tame me, dress me in pale smocks, teach me
cleanliness and courtesy.

can the rush grow up without mire?

How would I know taste
except by tasting, more than once, by my hands and in my mouth
moving white and yolk in and out of my body
like letters back and forth on a slate until I made words—
experimentation and ecstasy.

mine own clothes shall abhor me

Therefor I cast them off—
one week of beachbumming an alien island shore, sunstruck mirth
in turquoise water, sand scrubbing between my thighs,
nightmares of tumbled sea wrack ventriloquizing leviathans—
hallucination and monstrosity.

they waited for me as for the rain

Winter mornings lend truth
or if not truth, then sunshine calving and spectral warmth
penetrating the marrow of old bones still rendering,
curdling sweetest milk into ferment and sometimes bile—
incoherence and memory.

there is a path which no fowl knoweth

No more I, not now or ever,
yet I fumble, I knuckle to task, I elbow forth,
wash my steps with butter in search of the rivers of oil.

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