Build it — that crooked temple,
your crooked temple that rises
from the grey tile of childhood,
drags itself onto its own two feet
and grips the lip of the counter:
the kitchen faucet, arched out,
gargoyle spewing rainwater,
and the first fear, vertigo.

Let it sway, like the slurred taunts
of a father pillared in cups.
Let it stand, like a mother,
rebuffed by wind, palms, false
conceit — prayerflags and socks
pinned to the clothesline.
Lay down the altar.

Lay down the bodies of every
thing you loved. Every dog and cat
stacked as bricks, pointed.
Lay down your shame, it is
worthless here. It is
a smooth stone, unbleached.
Alike, there is no praise,
no rite to crush you, no call
to uplift, no priest. It is.

And as the candles flicker
below the copper sheets
between you and lead, so too,
the blue bruise of the tomb
must bear your name: as there
it is scratched, as there
it is scrawled, as there
it is written.

Image: Stefan Kunze on Unsplash

Published in Oracle Bone — Issue 1, Spring 2021, available at:

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