Sunday, September 6, 2015

Escape Artist in Reverse

Royce Bair : Iron Rod Art

The landscape you run from is not desert, not blue hills, not
jail cell, not electric barbed-wire fence; it is within. Where your 

hunger brawls at night, paper for supper doing nothing but make you
dream of tractors that fly, helicopters digging tunnels to China. Or

the other side of the Black Plague, where the sick get well in droves.
It is where you don’t want to go. Where your father fails to come home

again, take you fishing, watch you say three lines in the school play,
make you put on socks before you put your cowboy boots on. It’s where

fire smolders tire rubber in the barn, where someone you love presses a
gun barrel to the vein on your temple, pulsing syncopated heartbeat.

You have to go there. There is no parole till you do.

And when you finally decide to do the fast, to let God be your mother’s
brother who takes you to the wilderness to wait for the vision that will

name you, you’ll still want to run. But this time your hunger will be
the merciful handcuffs with the lock you can’t pick, the prison jumpsuit

you can’t slip out from—if only because it wants you to live. Your heart
will grow legs instead and take you, plodding, even, to the center of that

black hole that whirrs in a roar, as it did in your mother’s womb, when
you first thought to steal in order to live. And if you do fall—relinquish

to gravity with tears and loud cries like those of the Son of Man.

You’ll finally see around you the translucent house you live in that
flies silent over the city in the hills, where your true home hides from

you now in its shyness. Your thirst will wrap its arms around you  
in a braid of safety, risk, and safety you can never escapetill you 

drink what you think is a mirage of water guarded by a desert 
lion. Your healing’s on the other side of time, that is to say, now.

Now to make sure every drop of this bitter water’s not wasted,
the poison brine making alchemy in the maze of your intestines.  

It will be your oldest sorrow that covers you till this sandstorm, 
otherwise deadly, passes over in a terrible shifting of terrain. 

It will be your oldest pain that rocks you to sleep, this dark night 
no blazing rock in the sky reaches out to turn the waterfall gold.

When you wake in the holy morning, mist evaporating f
rom your 
strange, beloved hand—you'll find it’s your skin that's gold and new.

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