Old tools are best for a job like this. Cold chisel
and a hammer. I tap my belly one quick rap
and it shatters like a dream of piggy banks:
the coiled viscera wake, lift their heads, and gaze at me.
"Help me here," I say. I open each length
and lay it down, so that it pants in the unfamiliar air,
turning its pearl and ivory innard to the dawn.
There in the inmost reach I find it,
a length of yellowed bone written with a curse.
The ink is plum colored, going darker as it breathes;
the curse no more imaginative than any
these past five thousand years. "Live in pain,
and die groaning!" says the bone.
"You, and after all this time?" I say, gently
and in grief: for she and all her kind are long departed.
I am left alone to remember all the glory and the hatred,
the sweetness of a voice too beautiful to bear,
the clutch of a missed grip, and a missed foot on the stair.
Each tender worm closed up and settled in, I'll glue
the fragments of my belly back: I'll be
a mended Buddha on the knick-knack shelf,
with only a net of red lines
to show in trace the breakage of the orb.
And here be-shelved we stay;
the length of bone still warming in our hands,
and pulsing with the rising of the sun.