You say you will never forsake us
then send a horse the color of decaying flesh
to wipe out a fourth of the earth.
God does not will woe, the pastor says. Disaster unfolds
from our own misdeeds. We sing, lift hands.
The drummer kicks out mercy and grace.
But I still see the horse trampling the bloated faces
once knit in their mothers’ wombs,
coyotes gnawing on bones in brown pastures.
Jesus, you slid screaming from a birth canal,
kissed leprous flesh and bantered with whores.
Now you’re lounging among gemstones
while viruses shut down newborn organs
and ashes coat the treads of our shoes.
You don’t have to end it this way.
But even if you don’t, even if this slaughter
is just another symbol of our exodus,
why invent a cadaverous horse
to instruct us, why sharpen more swords,
why, bloodied lamb,
even break the seal?
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.