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In The Deep Museum

by
 My God, my God, what queer corner am I in? 
Didn't I die, blood running down the post, 
lungs gagging for air, die there for the sin 
of anyone, my sour mouth giving up the ghost? 
Surely my body is done? Surely I died? 
And yet, I know, I'm here.
What place is this? Cold and queer, I sting with life.
I lied.
Yes, I lied.
Or else in some damned cowardice my body would not give me up.
I touch fine cloth with my hand and my cheeks are cold.
If this is hell, then hell could not be much, neither as special or as ugly as I was told.
What's that I hear, snuffling and pawing its way toward me? Its tongue knocks a pebble out of place as it slides in, a sovereign.
How can I pray> It is panting; it is an odor with a face like the skin of a donkey.
It laps my sores.
It is hurt, I think, as a I touch its little head.
It bleeds.
I have forgiven murderers and whores and now must wait like old Jonah, not dead nor alive, stroking a clumsy animal.
A rat.
His teeth test me; he waits like a good cook, knowing his own ground.
I forgive him that, as I forgave my Judas the money he took.
Now I hold his soft red sore to my lips as his brothers crowd in, hairy angels who take my gift.
My ankles are a flute.
I lose hips and wrists.
For three days, for love's sake, I bless this other death.
Oh, not in air -- in dirt.
Under the rotting veins of its roots, under the markets, under the sheep bed where the hill is food, under the slippery fruits of the vineyard, I go.
Unto the bellies and jaws of rats I commit my prophecy and fear.
Far below The Cross, I correct its flaws.
We have kept the miracle.
I will not be here.

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