Audio: Read by the author.
Monasteries who claimed sole possession
of a savior’s foreskin must have known,
a holy thing is money, and so, they came,
pilgrims from the wetlands of the plague.
They knelt, gave alms, received what solace
the feeble in flesh and spirit can expect.
Perhaps a couple thought of it as funny.
And why not. Every idol is a toy.
It always was. When I was a child,
I talked to them, for them. I do it still.
Photographs arranged on shelves just so,
they know. Life is lonely out there
without a past save the one you give them.
And so you listen, talk, hear a clearer
rationale for lying to your mother
at the end, pretending that you know
the blood of the covenant is lovely
and alive, in all she leaves behind.
However heartsick the fetish or allegiance,
the foreskin was someone’s after all.
I want to say a mother wept for joy.
If it opened a window on a meadow
that bled a brighter April than those on earth,
still, when I think of it, I think of earth.
I see some child’s cry in the poppies,
the mohel’s scalpel at the break of dawn.
Why pray for the dead if not for this,
for God’s speed on their journey, home,
beneath the burden of the proof they bear.
Bruce Bond is the author of twenty-four books, including Blackout Starlight (LSU/Phillabaum Award), Rise and Fall of the Lesser Sun Gods (Elixir/Elixir Book Prize), Dear Reader (Free Verse), Frankenstein’s Children (Lost Horse), and Words Written Against the Walls of the City (LSU).
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.