Pariah

It’s true, i was careless. That one i was
always shadowing—one night it slipped
from its cage of ribs & didn’t come back.
I woke to the baying of dogs & the beating
of a hundred pairs of wings—pigeons
with their automatic laughter.
I had to go live among the graves
where no one looks for a wife.

It’s been months now.
Years, even.
Time again when night turns
the crests of the mountains white
like the hands of God on the horizon,
his bared knuckles.

One morning the vines lie limp & dark
six months after setting the one-eyed
heads in the furrow
& turning them under. Just now

my long-fingered rake
lifting a clump of dirt
has uncovered a miniature cry,
a voice coming out of the ground
right at my feet.
Do earthworms or beetle grubs speak?

On my knees, plucking
the stones from their beds
i’ve unearthed a half-size infant’s foot
& grasping it around the ankle with
a gentle tug, look: it’s
a tiny naked girl, the very
color of clay, that i’ve uncovered!
She lies in the crook of my arm
& returns my gaze
like the cistern where i draw water.

I’ll take her back to my charnel house.
She will grow fat on boiled potatoes
& teach me how to interpret
this ceaseless buzzing of the dead
who are said to sleep.

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