By TERRI WITEK
I ask my sons what they want from St. Hieronymos, too old to befriend. Red hat, my dead son says. Fat book, my live son requests. No one mentions a lion, meandered in.
The lion asks for an edit= do these sons mark jars filled with body parts? Baboon son, jackal son? They flatten to black-rimmed eyes. No.
I climb through mountain sons. They are finding how far blue takes them. They are learning the ropy muscles of a man (higher animus/ they r anonymous) becalmed in a cave mouth. His red hat and book, the little fire.
One son becomes tooth, one legbone. It’s easy for mountains. They just have to step closer. The tooth shakes a little, settles. The legbone hides w/in a skinny shank. There’s music: the saint woke with an earwig, though no one hears it in town, and the cave doesn’t keep it.
Some versions forget lions. Outside, Bellini frisks two rabbits who nose-kiss. Inside, Jerome reads. No hat, no cloak. A timbered hole darkens the cave floor and leads nowhere.
4 pm. My sons appear with walking sticks and thorns they’ve pulled from their socks. Stickers, they say. Don’t you mow anymore? One drags down a long stocking, shows welt. Pussing a bit. Wrong saint, I say. They squint back identically.
The day exists in translation, so, now dog-sized, now snub-or-needle-snouted, enter a lion. He’s limped in to find a thorn-extraction device: a saint. His thorn is the reason for red.
Lick lick. A book flips to a word I can’t translate. My hat scratches shadow. Beyond me, blue mountains crawl for a bit; now they’re learning to walk. Pax to what follows. Caves stretch. Come in, one yawns through sticky red teeth.
Terri Witek is the author of The Rape Kit, Body Switch, Exit Island, The Shipwreck Dress (a Florida Book Award winner), The Carnal World, Fools and Crows, Courting Couples (winner of the 2000 Center for Book Arts Contest), and Robert Lowell and LIFE STUDIES: Revising the Self. She teaches English at Stetson University, where she holds the Sullivan Chair in creative writing.