Cutting Out (On Hebrews 9:22)
Maybe it was you, or just the alcohol.
Between the jazz and the free food,
I wanted to take the nearest knife
and stab myself. No –
to press it through my skin;
to draw it carefully,
like cutting cake at a wedding,
to watch myself part and bleed.
It was a need,
felt at the edges of my sleeves,
to make the feeling visible.
To make it tangible,
marked with precision,
linear, until the blood flows.
To make it manageable,
reduced to a need for iodine and action.
To give it focus.
To give me purchase on its slick sides,
opening a handhold in my flesh.
Humility is not self-loathing.
It is impossible to loathe a grain of sand
on a beach, beside an ocean.
Even in your shoe,
it is simply a thing misplaced.
Sunset, Grand Canyon
You seat yourself
cross-legged on a limestone ledge,
at the edge, and look west.
I am not expecting your seriousness.
I click. I frame. I shift.
Then I recognize your stillness.
I still myself.
I recite the paternoster
in the silence of my throat,
at the base of my skull,
between my temples,
until my breath is too big for my frame.
It flows into the air around us.
My spirit holds us both,
the way the setting sun
holds the cliffs with light.
Your knee against my calf
marks the end of my physical self
and our continuity in space.
Then the sun is gone.
You stand briskly,
brush the limestone from your shorts.
The wind rises with the sound of the sea,
as the earth cools.
I have just one thing to say:
“Well, it surely is
a bloody big hole in the ground.”