A ticklishness sometimes, sometimes
unbearable, like the crawl of restless legs
at night, when sleep
refuses to meet your eyes –
sometimes though a stiff wind of joy,
and the flesh in tatters streaming out behind.
Does it matter which hand palms the coin,
when he has ten thousand, and each a blazing eye?
I would say only, wait, and sway, and say
Oh not the lovely defensible prayers
you learned as an adult, no: say the Lord's Prayer,
dear, or “Now I lay me down to sleep.”
Now as I wait for this hesitating chest
to rise again, just a little; now while I wait
to hear the faintest breath,
now while all the joists are breaking,
the studs splitting the drywall,
and the cinder blocks grinding
one against the other --
now tell your simplest rosary,
or lead your fattest darling to the knife;
now touch your nibbled fingertips
to the lips of the planchette;
forget shame, this once, and ask.