Tin, bone, or wax, every fashioned heart
burns, sacred. Knead the shape,
etch and stain it, hammer dents, pinholes
so when held to light, divinity might
beam through. Coronas—fluorescent,
painted, already present—frame blessed
holy folk, the busted weathervane,
an impossible rock formation
at world’s edge. So many grandfathers,
young creatures have trekked
to the floor of that canyon
before they had trained, prepared
supplies, and left only prayer cards,
small, clumsy altars, rooms still
and covered with their skin.
The tin tacked to a wall, red glass
flickering with ghosts, wooden
figurines small enough to lie
two abreast in the grave of a fist--
these are postcards to the other
worlds, care of a silent courier.
No reply, no notice of receipt, no
seeded rest (if desired). Grateful
mortals shape the bird or a leg,
the kneeling faithful, skulls
and hands, the holy hands--
immaculate and otherworldly,
havers of touch and prayer.
Wesley Rothman, Pushcart Prize nominee and finalist for the 49th Parallel Poetry Prize, has had poems and criticism in the Ashville Poetry Review, Bellingham Review, Crab Orchard Review, Salamander, Rattle, Harpur Palate, The Rumpus, On the Seawall, Thrush, Paper Darts, Inter|rupture, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, among others. He serves Ploughshares as senior poetry reader, and teaches writing and cultural literatures at Emerson College and the University of Massachusetts Boston.