The Riddle

Photo by Randy Tarampi via Unsplash

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The Riddle

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A book is a set of dead symbols. And then, the right reader comes along and the words—or rather the poetry behind the words—spring into life and we have a resurrection of the word.
                           ~ Jorge Luis Borges “The Riddle of Poetry”

  1. Medicine Bag

You write with the bones of the dead
carried in a pouch around your neck.
They hit your breastbone
with each step: We’re here. We’re
here. Hear us.

You know this is how you’ll end up, too,
if you’re lucky: a sliver
of your former self,
a diminishment.
A word.

  1. Scavenger

Beyond the pale of words, the forest
breathes.
Something hunts
in the thicket, something
is being hunted. A small
death in the making.

Put that in your poem.

A crow’s shadow
slices your path. A caw.
Retrace
your steps to that thicket.
Peck at the shards of bone,
the shreds of fur, the claw,
the tooth.

Put that in your poem.

  1. Resurrection

It rarely happens, if ever.
Yet here it is, the body
you’ve come to anoint, polish to a glow
it never had while it lived, make
god-like—here it is, alive,
breathing on its own, the tomb
gaping open, the slab of rock flung aside,
the angel (!?) speaking in tongues, as if
you could possibly hear
over that heartbeat
that fills up the woods
with thunder.

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First published in Dappled Things, Pentecost 2019

 

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