heard second-hand

he was handsome in his double-breasted suit
tall & anything but dark he made me weak-kneed
he appeared in our midst with eyes
only for me
all colors had gone out of the room

he was strong full of promises money
couldn’t buy Only say you love me
better than you love yourself
he was old

where were the colors when the room started turning
slow as the hour hand on a grandfather clock
turning like a sunflower toward his face

then i saw his suit too was alive
braided snakes basking on a white rock
my tongue stuck fast on the first syllable of Jesus

he was saying Your brothers are evil
their church is an abomination
he was saying
not to let them put their hands on my head

or pin my arms back where
my two new wings will sprout & spread
& i’ll go like a pale moth to the light
like the Prophet to New Jerusalem

until i heard very faint & far
my mother’s voice
& it was You
your uncomplicated concern was worth
an eternity of sweets

i secreted his business card in a pocket of my purse
the other cards rustled together
like beech leaves in winter
still clinging to their tall pale tree


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