and then turn and be healed---Isaiah 6:10 NEB

Peter Munro

I. Grace

Squint into sun the preordained
snare which is a network of vessels pulsing the retina.
What pray-er of prayers can unlock the holy
sneer? Downing this Eucharist, listen.
The sepulchre echoes with snores.

As the bunny is preordained
to the snare and the tearing of blood
and the shimmer of the lattice of nerves in a twitch,
let a squirt of saliva moisten the pot.
O fuzzy, tufted, little thumper!
sizzle smartly in a bed of potato and carrot
toward our yawn of mouth.

Squinched eyes gather the blindness of prayer.
Folded hands cannot
surrender the prisoner up to her last meal
or her first meat after gnawing years of flint.
Where light flirts down ocular axones
through passageways deep behind septa
she will hear the alto flute of want,
she will see her Maker of food and hunger
walk toward her, reeking of sex.

The flavor of that which I do not have
caresses my tongue,
the sweetest of lies.
When I splintered I became woman.
This saved me.
I taste the shame of surrender:
I am!
I want!

When fragrant hymns of baking
enter into the inner sanctum,
remember every single fragment
of the splintered soul late at night
stealing food
from the carefully hidden cache
at the back of the cupboard.

It was easier than stealing love
because it was possible.
It was easier than stealing back my own.

What pray-er of sneers can jostle
the holy prayer? Sunlight netted
in our retina will not leave me.
Preordained to blindness, we submit.
Kneeling, we press my lips to His flute.

II. Inner Sanctum

When Heaven lives within this moment
blood will unbolt its manacle,
hemoglobin unshackle itself from iron.
I will kiss the wind's sinew.
My lungs will be muscle.
Alveoli will flex against the pull
of oxygen and carbon dioxide,
bending light.

When Heaven has risen into this instant,
when Heaven has shattered this temple of fear,
when Heaven strides within this moment,
spit will pool under my tongue.
Blood is a wire that thrums to a hammer-blow,
blood is a drum in a piano's sounding board
when I kiss the sinew of the wind.

In a white room a little girl glares
down from the wall where she has been nailed
in the shape of the Cross.
The dryness in my mouth snares any song
I might sing her. The Heaven of this moment
disappears into the future.

In a white room this moment lasts forever.
Heaven lurks behind the door that is just outside
my field of vision.
In a white room this moment is black
with dried blood. The nail through her wrist
is a manacle. The nail
through her ankle is a shackle.

Stories chained in the flavor of semen
are too large to be captured in lyric.
The ear in my throat
has listened to the terrible, acidic
rasp of my own strings of amines,
the bitter tails of my sperm.
Whose other stories have I heard?
I generate only metaphor.
I can conjure no memory.

III. Speaking In Tongues

When Heaven sluices tongues of flame I speak in chains.
Skeins of chromosomes, ramshackle
twistings of amines and hydrogen bonds,
ordain secret slavery. Animal-
want curls through balls and belly, shackling.
To merely not die is to starve.
When Heaven's muscle tackles bondage of the flesh
the flesh burns free. Tongues
of stars blare down on me. What twinkles
in a skull's orbits scars the deep where my rage
sparks. Endure bondage of the flesh, a little boy's hands
tied behind his back. Prickles
of blood numb his three-year-old fingers.
His fear carves silently.
Each tear trickles a furrow thirty years deep,
erodes the last strand binding me to him.

My whole life I have shoved food in my mouth.
My canticle of hunger could not be silenced.
When Heaven wooed my flesh, when Heaven
rankled my throat with Her fiery tongues,
fury whirled its brood of knives in my groin.
Endure bondage of the flesh, endure stories
shelved in a testicle
that slice the young throat and thresh the slight
soul's miracle of light to splinters
while tight-bound hands slowly thrash.

What was done cannot be undone.
But now I stop.
In the recovery room I shake
off the anesthetic of thirty years
slowly. The room is white.

In Her infinite mortality
tongues of Heaven flame into my mouth,
unscar the throat scarred by undesired
semen. I have no memory.
In Her bone-breaking mercies
my wrist-bone cracks and my heart-bone
clatters; the loudness of it embarrasses me.
Shackles and buckles of fat,
soft and strong about my hips and belly,
bind me; they no longer shelter me.
In my finite immortality
and His enduring blood, I suckle
till His corpuscles rupture into loaves.

When Heaven erupts with desire,
when Heaven dances
and the dead raise their hymns,
I dread the hand that pulled the last nail,
the sweet taste of rust, the spice
of blackened blood crumbled into the rove
and fold of dough baked until crusty heel.
Tongues of Heaven flare like brandy.
I choke, curling up in my rolls of fat.
In this inner room the pentecost
of dying makes a lifetime. I ache
for the protection of a body,
any body.

Copyright CrossConnect, Inc. 1996