What I should have done

Joyce Ellen Davis

· Poem of the day

What I should have done

I should have cut a hole in the ceiling

to let my prayers out, words

like smoke from incense pots,

unable to rise above that bloody altar.

Look: here is where you should have slept,

your ear only an inch above my heart.

See: this field of stars above the watchtower

that we might have counted, bye and bye.

Now the sky is full of dark matter,

and though I were rich as Herod,

the baby-killer of Bethlehem

(who was richer than Caesar), I can

not get you back, even though

I would rub salt upon your infant body

and powder you with mustard seeds,

and wrap you up with swaddling bands

embroidered with your genealogies.

Here is the singing bird I'd give you,

the pony, here the toy soldiers,

their cannons in flames.

Here angels play, out of sight

lest they terrify us, though we lie

prostrate, trembling on the ground,

we eaters of entrails, we breakers of bones.

The first to bring an offering

and the first to be offered,

like a burning ram, I continue

to follow your lead

like Nahshon followed Moses, loving him

too much, walking out before him into the sea,

walking out until the water was

all the way up to his nose

before the sea finally parted.

—Joyce Ellen Davis (http://goo.gl/mcwg63)

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