A Study of Cowardice

By | 1 November 2019
            I will tell you now what I didn’t have the courage
            to say then: I was awake
                                                the whole time
when you pressed my glassy palms against
the soil,

let loose                      a wild animal inside my mouth
I’ve always had the teeth to bite back
            but didn’t,
                        how it dug its nails, savored the sweet
                        nicotine infestation on my purpling gums
                        as it crawled down with the intent
of slitting my throat from inside. I know
to cough                    something                    out
            when it is unwelcome; fervent, aching—even
the newest of bodies learn this out of instinct:

                                    Bitter gourd.
                                    A lock of a lover’s hair.

            I take the shape of a hairless spider to ward off
anything that will devour me and call it mercy,
which is to say,

I have arrived—here, with a gratitude for all
things that have not succeeded in killing me
            long ago,

when I exiled my lungs to the depths of the ocean,
it found in the chasms and interstices the secret
to my survival. Somewhere,

a lost city plunged underwater throbs harder
                                    than it did alive

            which my father calls cowardice, even with
his body fit more for flutter than for flight, and so
                                                             I learned to surrender
                        with cupped hands, like feeding water
                        to a parched mouth,
my long-held secret; a kind of weaponized submission
(or omission?) that’s kept me alive.

                        In the factory of alleged virtues, I learned
to swim without my lungs. Surrender, it persuades.

Learned to fight not out of need but out of will.
This is the only way, I am told, where

            bent-backed roses bloom thorn-less
in a garden full of sin, I linger a coward still, forgoing
                        even things not mine to surrender.
This entry was posted in 93: PEACH and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Related work:

  • No Related Posts Found

Comments are closed.