"A Little Song About Crosses," "A Little Song with Lines from Ezra Pound," and "I Worship Eshu, the Yoruba Messenger, Trickster, Patron of Confusion, Uncertainty, Asymmetry and the Isolated, Both Feared and Loved"
How do you know when it’s done? I admit the children
were wrecked but the sad man gave me reasons to remain—
the sex was sex, his blows weren’t all that harsh and he never
shot at me but once. It’s a gift, I guess, to know how to leave,
a gift I didn’t have. I didn’t know how to gather the pans
and toys and skirts into the van and put on the tie-dye and escape
to where a burnt cross on the lawn wasn’t so scary because
crosses don’t come after you. Crosses burn in place, as they should.
The second I’d read all the books through once, I packed
my small clothes in the duffle bag—the inside was shot but it served—
and turned off the lights and the phone and stepped away
from the state line. After taking all that time, I’d worked out
how to go—slow. There’s no express lane for a one-passenger car.
Why mourn my rueful heart? The climax was a flight into the dark.
A Little Song with Lines from Ezra Pound
The wing ripped from the scapula,
the flesh under a hand, the fiend—
or your moralizing conscience?
What did you wear? What did it show?
Were you loose? Were you fierce?
Shut up. Don’t be helpless. Don’t tell—
not right now. There’s that dark scarp
to jump from, meanwhile, have a care
for the long questions. The past
will surely inject the present "And life slips by like a field mouse
Not shaking the grass"
I Worship Eshu, the Yoruba Messenger, Trickster, Patron of Confusion,
Uncertainty, Asymmetry and the Isolated, Both Feared and Loved.
These days, I take Eshu. He seems as feasible as any diety.
He’s the message thrust under my door, the mirror that displays
my uneven face, the glare that leaks through my window
to reveal my miscreant passion, my card trick emotions.
Like me, he’s unsociable yet he has his own disorderly tribe.
Like me, he’s warm and scary, glossy and wooly,
On balance, he’s the most tolerable to my addled spirituality.
His splendor refracts off the fog that is prayer to me.
In spite of our likeness, I exhort him to go beyond his wheelhouse.
Instead of fiscal chaos, I wish he’d pay the bills. No more excess,
Honey, just rearrange my desk, fold the laundry, define wrong
and right. But nagging doesn’t get results. Instead to beseech him,
I must go to the neighborhood rail yard to make my devotions,
fold my hands, genuflect in whatever direction the rusty track runs.
Wendy Taylor Carlisle lives and writes in the Arkansas Ozarks. She is the 2020 winner of the Phillip H. McMath Post-Publication Award for The Mercy of Traffic and this spring, Doubleback Books reprinted her 2008 book, Discount Fireworks, available free at: Doubleback Books. Her website is www.wendytaylorcarlisle.com. Photo by Greg Comnes.