Alpha Cradle: A poem by Sarah Kersey

By Sarah Kersey


Alpha Cradle

It dawned on me one evening:  the sanguine streaks at dusk
felt like sacrifice, I could smell
holiness in the pasture where Stephen was stoned.
The space faith resides is a bodied thing to sink in.
I couldn’t collapse.
I had always thought that if I could surmise
my head could expand into a sunrise far beyond
what was bestowed upon me.  I’m self-assured,
but still have holes my argument.
Fringes are still left unsewn, even with
the lint in my pockets.
You can never wash or explain everything.

If anyone had seen me crying
at the painful reminder that I did, in fact,
sleep on the church steps at night,
Through torrential rains, through droughts,
through heavy hands and a driving tongue,
I fought with all my might.
For eighteen years, I’d met my maker but never shook hands.
The wind, indiscriminate in its ways, reignites my deciduous frame,
Rubbing hands to spark quick prayers.
Rooting is never easy.
Being pulled up and apart, like youth,
growth pains inciting a bony revolution.
Splintering weight-bearing bones and swords Damocles forgot
stretched out thin, like cancer begetting cancer.
No, sap is never sequoia; just sugary sweet
hiding sins under unassuming shade to diffuse into night.

And I’d sound out the keen that’d lull me into a daydream,
forgetting for a moment, actually feeling the bereavement of a man
who turned on his wife, spitting bullets at point-blank range,
pummeling her into brick and mortar.
Then, I, the Nimrod that I am, say
“Let us build a tower.  His bones will be the foundation.
His back will be the frame.  I will love him forever.
He’ll be fire-resistant and sway with the earthquakes.  His eyes will be the pinnacle,
Then everyone will know that this tower made me.  It made nothing out of something.”
Amidst the drowning noise from other tongues, I scaled its spine.
Teething, teetering from crib into canyon:
Rip me from beneath the reverie,
A weary, maddened explorer,
his realities in cities of gold.

And when the pillars came down,
Who do I see?  Who else, but Samson with his stubbly black velvet
atop his head.  It was the same as the sky.
Sunlight penetrated the emerald canopy through a pinhole in brilliant defiance.
He lay beside me, battered by a gauntlet of glaucoma.
The clouds contort with an eerie crepitus and open.
The Devil is beating his wife now; she keens as she bathes us.
We are prone. We are penitent.
We rest.  He hushed me, held me.
We are long for this earth.

Sarah Kersey is a poet, musician, and x-ray tech from New Jersey. Her work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Scarlet Leaf Review, Columbia Journal (online), and Verse Magazine, among other publications.

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