There can be nothing humble about a modern supplicant
if circumstance leaves him begging for a five-pound block
of cheese. Someone makes sandwiches of broken glass
and light mayo for the children of the divorced, who are us.
We’re guilty, self-convicted, the road to a stranger’s bed paved
with the skulls of priests. The Christmas pageant reenacts
all our evaporated histories, and a grant from Dow Chemical
sponsors Bicentennial minutes of prayer, this epidemic dyskinesia
the priciest meds can no longer suppress. At the children’s Mass,
the congregation pins a heretic to the altar and sells him insurance,
and no one has suffered the tribulations of the folk Mass since 1974.
A temporary injunction commands us: speak of love only as metaphor,
a blood diamond as rare as that Indian guy whose fingernails stared
out at us from the inside cover of the Guinness Book. We bake
bread and drink wine in remembrance of first kisses; we preen
for possible mates in order to lure them upon the rocks. Our ovens
make bricks out of other bricks, mortar from spittle and clay.
Each Monday morning we bear false witness against our neighbors
and covet their wives, contaminate their drinking water with semen,
I mean fluoride. By statute, kisses remain theoretical, or else limited
to cars and hotel bars. Fire needs fuel, accelerant, ignition. So I ask,
do this in memory of me. I am fire. The house in its natural state
is empty and burns. Bird songs lull us to sleep and the night owl asks
only, what? You have never needed examples to prove we are inevitable,
so why start now? Come to me, I tell you, and I will protect you.
Steve Kistulentz is the author of the novel Panorama and two collections of poetry, Little Black Daydream and The Luckless Age. He directs the graduate program in creative writing at Saint Leo University, and lives in the Tampa area with his family.