How to Remove a Spike

Albert Abonado

              I started doing this when my mother got sick, kidney problem. I vowed and prayed to God

              so that she could be cured …

               — Marvin Tao

Gratitude arrives with a hole in each hand, with metal

recycled from television sets and car fires.

This is the closest anyone has been

to my bones, shrapnel that makes its own music

as it passes through my body, a country

of volcanos and sugar and kidney failure.

The nails are not enough to sustain me. Devotion suspends

but does not give permission to float.

The Health Department insists on tetanus shots,

that each spike be sterilized before it penetrates, blessings

pulled from a jar of liquor that also purifies.

This is how I was meant to be born: my hair made

from clouds the color of grease and the smoke

I carry everywhere. When they raise me

up, all the incense rises to my lips. I have the best

view of the sky, of the distance prayers

must travel and the dust they leave behind, of the type

of bird that swallows them on their way up.

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