May 23, 2012

Nancy A. Henry

EXCRUCIATA

You want to look away
from where they lie—
sliced by glass,
battered by flung logs—
children carried from the sea.
You don’t want to be skinned like this,
your wide eyes peeled more open
than they’ve ever been.
But see them.
Small lost princes, heads thrown back
and arms spread so rigidly, the crucified;
see the dark fringe of their beautiful lashes
on these impassive cheeks, no warmer
than the waves that toss them back
to the arms of mothers, fathers
inside out with grief.
See how loss eviscerates.
All night, again, you wander
along the iron gateways, among the purchased
aromas of lust, looking for a certain house
in a strange city. It all has washed away.
Softly, gently the night
opens and closes his wings,
eating and begetting, until the windows
disclose enough dawn
to wake you.

from Rattle #23, Summer 2005
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