by Peter McCracken
I’d seen it a thousand times but never like this
That morning as you rose from your bower
Shaking off petals, dew, the tendril of a vine.
A messenger arrived, bearing the scroll.
Small, bitter-white paper wrapped tight, sealed…
You had been mandated to name nature,
To take census of creation,
And as the rider’s horse went back over
The horizon I took the scroll and ate it.
I recall the taste of wormwood paper
Twisting through my guts and the blood
I spat on the grass like deep midnight pools
Glinting in the morning sun
To accept a contract for another is arch nobility.
When I stood you wiped my mouth,
Gave me your finest pen and longest
Parchment and sent me down the
Dust road to the capital.
I recall the stares of pharisees
And the smell of burnt offerings.
I do not recall standing for three days, writing,
No memory of anything until I finished.
I returned and spat blood again, the missive too,
Now a smooth black stone, onto the same grass.
The midnight pools glowed and were
Swallowed by the earth.