Sunday, 20 May 2012

Sunday Poem


Not particularly cold, it blushes slightly, a tiny bud
in the shadow of my left breast. You’d think it a freckle
or a mole and not be as far wrong as those who
four hundred years ago
would have burned me alive at the sight of it
after, of course, a significant interval of gratuitous torture
involving spikes being driven into various parts of my
tender anatomy and ending not in confession
but in exhausted and probably unconscious silence.

But who convinced the witch-hunters that evil marks the flesh?
And who was not deformed back then by something or other—
the body a map of disease and malnutrition,
stinking, lice-ridden, with bleeding gums and falling hair,
eyes clouded by cataracts, lids drooping with palsy, limbs trembling with ague,
pocked with sores, tumours, abscesses and ulcers.
Yet they ignored clear evidence of our shared mortality
in their search for one singular blemish, an extra nipple
with which to suckle a satanic familiar.

You’d think that centuries of plot and counterplot would have revealed
that most successful villains are unremarkable, their bodies
as fallible as ours, their faces as plausible, their stories
as full of lamentation and excuse. That the hand of God
if it bothered to write to us at all would surely be less
inscrutable. But no.
The encryption of the universe continues beyond our comprehension
as we study the marginalia on each others’ skin
blinkered and enraged, seeking somebody else, anybody else,
to blame.

From The Smooth Yarrow (2012) by Susan Glickman.

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