Issue 127, Summer 1993
Roxy lifts her furrowed face and opens
her mouth for another hunk of banana muffin.
Her eyes are matted shut; her white hair wild as Isaiah’s.
Craving apple turnovers and sweet potato pie,
she mutters thanks for my careful gift,
but I wish you’d try to kill me with sugar, she adds,
with perfect disdain for her elusive death.
God has confided to her she’ll stay put until the Rapture,
won’t ever feel the deep freefall from exhaustion and ache.
So she complains: irritable with the promise of trumpets,
assorted millennia. She wants to get on with it—
—no loss left for her to fear, not the shedding of her sagged,
lichened skin, nor the mask of her Methuselan face.
I’d bet good money He could find room right now for one more
and then she says angel as if in contrition, as if to relinquish
her life-long qualm about the impracticality of wings.
She’s ready for the promised new flesh,
the replenishing of the heart’s emptied cache.
I watch her as she dozes and consider
this career leap to obedience improbable:
her tongue still licking her lips in the habit of hunger,
her hand, a fistful of knuckles, in my hand.
And I think, how heartbreaking and human, how predictable
really, this longing to salvage and restore the body—
as if ruin, written on the flesh at birth,
could be erased once time has washed over it
and spelled out the same, sad, immutable text.