Today's poem is by Elizabeth T. Gray, Jr.
Even James had had it with shrines.
If he had to take off those shoes one more time
there would be, he averred, more than just three hells to pay
so we checked into a high-end hotel:
yes absolutely you are from where.
Two Japanese kept taking photos of Shiva's
mossy lingam in the lobby without
first offering the requisite marigolds,
doubtless the blunt stump took notice
and the road back to Kyushu would be strewn
with untended consequences. Nadia
ripped off bits of her gray scarf and wrote out
prayers for something (we were tired of asking)
and went off in search of a banyan.
She's really going to tie one on this time,
Jack said, and we collapsed in laughter as fraught
as the route we saw home in those moments
when you dare to look, when the rains
go into week three and have ceased
to be novel or foreign.
Early in the morning when it was yet dark she had gone back to the clinic
to bring Blake his clothes and they said he'd been discharged
he wasn't there so she went back and woke Simon and Peter
who came and up they went past the desk to the ward
but where he had lain only a small pile oft-shirt and sheet
and two orderlies each with good English
yes we had just been calling and promptly the Embassy gentleman
came as per instructed. Get Andrew and Nadia said Peter and left,
but Sarah moved not. Then at the doorway
a tall man in white with no name
on his lab coat: Who are you looking for? Why are you crying?
There could be steps right here, she said, going down to some river.
My friend was not clay and glitter not an image of some orange god
not a version or bizarre incarnation of smudged attributes not something
you people bow to and chant at and throw your food and savings and shirts
this is he, is he, is not that, we refuse
to dance in some street-crush of half-naked hawkers and then throw him
at s ome astrologer's perfect moment into some clogged estuary,
she said, spilling everything onto the cracked tile.
Later, she thought he said Sarah, putting his mace, spear, and trident
down on a chair, and came over to her, standing just out of reach.
Copyright © 2015 Elizabeth T. Gray, Jr. All rights reserved
from Beloit Poetry Journal
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission
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