All afternoon spent waiting for the goods,
the body a decorative box filled with harp music—
something I’d rather not have in my house—
the body a pendulum clock on a hook . . .
Soon our faces will have to be put down.
Long before the deluge an ocean covered
everything. The animals dying there became
sediment, which compressed, became the
entablature where God could write the rules—
burnt them in there with his synaptic fire.
I must ask the stars to crowd in closer.
When the secret number of sparks have flown
from the wheel, my father is sharpening
the machete again. He will take the head off
the goat in two sweet strokes. He will hang
him in the barn and spill his bowels.
Our guests were repeating best venison
I ever ate when our neighbor came in waving
the stubnose she’d just shot her husband with.
When she set it down my father picked it up
and offered her fifty bucks for it—childhood
packed its bags and moved into the attic.
Each body’s unique perturbations appear
in the waveshape of the voice: muscle–twitch,
beating cilia, oscillation of cells, dilating
vessels. To read the words of the dead aloud
is transubstantiation. To read the words
of the dying only heals the words.
The body a sousaphone conveying through
the slaughterhouse. The body a hankering
of wagon wheels. When finally the tablets
arrived, they were broken and incomplete.
Someone’s cry is already fossil. The bullet
already hangs in the throat. A voice vibrates
to the tune of tumor. My father’s cry
is the radiation in my bones.
The stars keep their distance. Even in death
he stands over me. The song of the goat
is in the soil, in the boards of the barn.
The mountains rose with their recording stone
waiting for the instruments to be invented,
preserving a language we all die to hear.
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