Poetry and Poetics
OF CLOTH, THREE WOMEN, A
Beautiful the light washing him
as he lies, rich-dark as loam
on the rough cloth, as if the strong
sun of Africa exalts this one
who sleeps with a smile of heaven.
Three women hold his head,
his arms. They are covered in
rough cloth, the same rough cloth
spread under him. It is the color
of bleached wheat, of uncut canvas.
What are they doing? Who are they?
Three windows in their burkas
reveal their eyes, creased—with age?
Some rite of passage? A sign?
The dead were sewn into
shrouds . . .
No, I say, No—this boy almost
perfect of face, limb, the two ladders
of ribs—ineffable peace—ten fingers,
ten toes. Two sperm pockets, limp penis . . .
The first time I held my own child,
I counted, relieved, all the perfections.
A world to ourselves. What do they
his loveliness? their love? famine's
exactions . . . the cloth about to close . . .
© by Rosemary
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