MERCY

It’s a low kind of panic now, like being held underwater
by someone who is almost certainly going to pull you back up.
I want to show him what merciful really means, break each wrist
by the lunate, watch the lungs inflate in theatrics (or not inflate at all,
since we’ve been holding our breath). He’s shedding orange peels
all over the floor, broken open on only one side. I’ve laid him
on the operating table, broken him open on one side for the only secret I want,
started rooting through kidneys for the meat of it. How long must I wait?
We’re both on our best behavior, and no one’s making a sound.
I told him, only now at the very end of things can anybody be this shameless,
tear into their want with canines bared. Even his knuckles are grazing wood,
looking for the luck in it. He’s been keeping his baby teeth cupped in his hands
for too long now, and they’re starting to sweat. He’s been keeping his nightmares
at bay with a billy club, which is probably how I keep finding these bruises.
So I planted foxgloves in him to match. Because I’m tired of saying please,
we are stripped narrow enough already, and the night is hemorrhaging beneath us.

[Spring 2015]

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