sky burial

John Sibley Williams

          — for craig santos perez


seed spills across the hard winter soil like engine oil.

noxious rainbows flower & splay. fumes choke. bare

as a cathedral, the scant light filtered through ironwood

comes to us as shadow. as a childhood minus the innocence.

as moths drawn to an unlit candle. an act of contrition. tonight

let us instead praise the unsacrificed. praise the uncollapsed bridges

still reaching out for shore. less bloodied-up sidewalk, the sunset

right now is a previously unknown red. red as the hearts our children

paint in their minds when no crayon will do. an alphabet not so much

of longing as breath. untainted breath. tender violences. & the bodies

pulled from earth just another green thing. all root & tug. future nourishment.

praise the calloused flags of our fingers: disinterring, replanting, consuming

every last bit of history so our nails stay dirty. it is good, the scavengers say,

to be dirty. & exposed. like organs opened to sky. to beak & chew. claw &

consent. maybe it’s time for the doors my daughter draws on her bedroom wall

to be doors. for the bullet lodged in our language to burst out the other side.

praise the mountain where we celebrate our dead by leaving them be. & the love

of everything carried. & miscarried. the cruelty we carve into trees. & skin. tonight

let’s autopsy those deep shadows & give what haunts us a face. & name. a body.

hands. then hold those hands tight as a dying mother. walk us through that door.


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