Cleansing, Let Us Prey
Flayed skins flutter in dry wind,
bodiless, breathing without lungs
while the sun creates new leather.
Someone has draped them over
fence pickets, translucent pink
shreds impaled on wooden teeth.
In our trampled garden, my daughter
crouches beside corn stubble, hands
dripping from the laundry bucket.
She has wrung out every stain
as she prays above her rinse water.
Wet bedclothes pulse like discarded
organs that swell and collapse.
Entrails quickly shrink against heat,
blow across rock walls, catch and curl
into ivy patterns. We peel them gently,
dig burial hollows under the sand.
Frail tendrils of my father's veins
twist through a stranger's bowels.
There are no corpses: mounted soldiers
have dragged them into the open desert.
Our village's stud donkey splays
throat-cut by the well, his eyes
bewildered and filmed with fine dust.
The hounds have outlived their hunger,
know it has passed with the army's advance.
Now, only worms dine on ass's flesh.
When stars rise with no moon, it is
easier not to see the flapping shadows
or cairns that hold back fresh ghosts.
It is better not to remember the dogs,
as we enfold our remaining children
in the brief release of bloodless sheets.
LET US PREY
The naked mountains shiver as they lean
toward imagined hallelujahs. Frost
has numbed their stony skins. No breath of green
can resurrect the ghosts of flowers lost.
Two snowy owls, veneered with pewter ice,
skim soft as summer moths among the fir.
They track moon-stenciled prints of careless mice,
add ruby drops to frankincense and myrrh.
Above their flight, an unattended feast
of galaxies outspreads its pale tableau
around a supernova in the East,
which outlines broken villages below.
In this impassive sky, what choir now sings?
None; just the hunting birds, with reddish wings.