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Today's poem is by Paul Guest

The Flesh

Walking to get medicine
for a pet, I am tempted

to speak of the flesh
a last time and fall silent

upon the subject,
as if sleep could claim

my mouth for its own
and close what I'd say

like a wound. Or,
in the earth, like a grave,

where this frail pet,
this wobbling fish,

would be placed,
accorded a living soul

in my mother's vision
of Heaven. Tired

of this world, the next
is what we wanted

this one to be, endless
revision and home

once more to gulfs
of loss. The dog

that died of infection
after losing its tail

to my grandfather
and his bolt-cutters

is made new. Out
of the coffin fitted

for newborns, the cat
my mother buried

in our front yard
rises. Such mercy

sways even me
beyond grumbling

at hints of autumn,
its litter of death,

its bone-deep ache.
Myself I cannot heal,

though I wish it once
or twice each day,

but this small thing,
short of Heaven's fugue state,

I can restore. Pet,
a healing dose for you.

And for this world,
the flesh is not good

for much at all, except
to love and then to mourn.



Copyright © 2003 Paul Guest All rights reserved
from The Resurrection of the Body and the Ruin of the World
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Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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