Saturday, January 14, 2017

Portrait of an Alcoholic with a Craving

By Kaveh Akbar 

I’ve lost the unspendable coin I wore around
          my neck that protected me from you, leaving it
bodyhot in the sheets of a tiny bed in Vermont. If you
          could be anything in the world
                                              you would. Just last week they found the glass eye
                                 of a saint buried in a mountain. I don’t remember
                                              which saint or what mountain, only
                                 how they said the eye felt warm
in their palms. Do you like
          your new home, tucked
away between brainfolds? To hold you
          always seemed as unlikely
                                              as catching the wind in an envelope. Now
                                 you are loudest before bed, humming like a child
                                              put in a corner. I don’t mind
                                 much; I have never been a strong sleeper, and often
the tune is halfway lovely. Besides, if I ask you to leave
          you won’t. My hands love you more
than me, wanting only to feed you and feed you.
          Tonight I outrank them
                                              but wisely you have prepared for famine.
                                 I am trying to learn from all this.
                                              It was you who taught me that if a man
                                 stands in silence for long enough
eventually only the silence remains. Still,
          my desire to please you is absolute.
Remember the cold night we spent
          spinning on my lawn?
                                              I wore only basketball shorts
                                 and a pair of broken sandals.
                                              I tied my hair back and
                                 laid out a hammer, some rope,
a knife. What I was building was a church.
          You were the preacher and I the congregation,
and I the stage and I the cross and I the choir.
          I drank all the wine and we sang until morning.

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