Letters in Bruised Language

          After we’re gone
          the work of our knives will survive us.

Because lightning, veins, branches,
     and roots all look the same

maybe your pores will absorb
     the soreness my fury

aborts, my rage exerts, fire
     its faith in nothing, no

one, but its Self, pours forth to
     discourage Solomon’s

once sealed djinn who are fossil
     fuels we let loose, let

ooze, and now we’re screwed in our
     abuse of ancient rules

we play against when we use
     them like this, unamused,

they follow us to surface,
     to be purged as they purge

the earth of us, thickening
     sickness, as molasses

consumes a tongue entering
     a mouth’s cavern, the noose

grips, tattoos letters in bruised
     language the way loss braids

a river through the meat of
     a heart, marbling its beef

until it falls apart, that
     the current might carry

away Jonah swiftly, near
     hell into the empty

belly of the whale and far
     elsewhere, beyond the pale

of deep trouble, we the scorned
     and scorched starters of fires,

us truant prodigals found
     as easily as each

regret’s cause, this pause of ours
     before letting get off

the other whose comfort our
     anxious hearts want to play

with instead of having to
     face hard discomfort’s lost

cost repaid stalks those this path
     crosses, telling you as

I do, or attempt to, these
     secrets we both know you

won’t keep, these twenty-three wounds
     of couplets heroes bleed.

1Margaret Atwood, “Carving the Jacks”, Stanza 5, Lines 6–7, in “[Cycle] III” of Dearly, published at Toronto by McLelland & Stewart in 2020; page 49.