the morning when she finds the tomb empty leaps from her the way the first spry geyser sprang from the Titanic. She bangs her knee and ducks to look again. Her adviser, John, warned her it was dangerous to come. Holed up behind locked doors, the gang of guys who claimed to love him. She runs her thumb across the ledge where his dead body lies.
Or rather doesn’t. Her heart’s a cypress forming a final growth ring, final grief: his body gone, his lithe hand, the small scar from the sharp chisel. To what can she say yes? Who is she now? Where to put belief? Her cry gashes the fragile morning air.
My head clangs, my skin congeals when I imagine your final terrain: the moldering gloom of the cave, giant stone corking the mouth to seal your body in— you bid me to imitate you, even in this? Until you rise, Love, I am useless. Stretching in a long rectangle of wall-shade, I pretend my hand crumbles dank sepulchral dirt. Listen. In the corner, one cricket abides. Soft-shelled and tooth-white, he chirrs his dwarfed wings, persistent song his answer to the absence of light.
The man on death row in the federal penitentiary writes to me On lined loose-leaf paper that when he was a boy in the South He was so absorbed by tent revivals that he knew he would be A preacher, knew it in his deepest bones. I would stand on my Bed and preach to the babies, and stand on a barrel and preach To the chickens and the hogs, and preach the Word to the cow, Who would not come to Jesus nor to anyone else neither. Well, That is not how things turned out for me, which is a long story, But what I want to get down in this letter is the blessings I had When I was a boy. Now there is much to say that was not at all In the least blessed, it was a violent and perplex raising we had, But what I want to get down is that was a time of great wonder And satisfaction for me because I knew what I was going to be. I could spend a lot of time explaining how I came to not be that Which I knew I was going to be but I have wasted enough time In that fruitless pursuit. Thank you for reading this letter, which Is a kindness on your part. It allowed me to remember a blessed Time, there on the old barrel preaching the Word to the animals.