. . . God in my mouth
As if I did but only chew his name,
And in my heart the strong and swelling evil
Of my conception. -- Measure for Measure
I have been thinking about rancor.
About the petulant anger of
those of us, used to having, once denied.
I have been thinking of
the turning points of my life:
all of them a stumbling through
a white sheet of flame,
an opacity of anger, to come to
unexpected places beyond.
I am unused to anger, I began
and realized the lie as soon as spoken.
I am old in anger, old in resentment.
What then? What next? I sift through
a scanty toolbox: plastic screwdrivers,
hammers made of chalk,
Chalklines of sugar floss.
Shantideva says the same thing
your grandmother did:
count to ten. And Thich Nhat Hanh
advised a method of confession
that I can't bring to mind.
I tried to write, to inquire,
to apologize, and found myself
iterating my grievances again,
like Thomas Jefferson ticking off the sins
of George the Third, uglifying
what ought to be the most beautiful poem
of democracy. “A decent respect
to the opinions of mankind...”
Maybe that's the problem.
If you are the water ouzel
swim now. Catch the sun, carry it underwater,
wrap it in cold weeds.
Strip off your skin and turn it
inside out, make it a bag for holding
Now cross, skinless and shivering.
Cross that scrawl of charcoal
on the coarse cement.
Vomit this morning's breakfast,
yesterday's dinner. Let the bile
in your sinuses kiss the coming tears.
It is always something simple, in the end.
Kneel, and press your forehead
against the sand-flecked concrete.
To desire and not to have:
that's all it ever is. That's all it ever is.
Put your skin back on, boy.
Swim back and bring out the sun.
Shake the water out of your wings;
say the shortest prayer you know.
Now we can begin.