The Apocalyptic Muse

At the appointed time, she comes forth from her cave,
the ape of Bellini's St. Francis, palms turned up
to praise the day.  Forget the homespun robe
or penitent's white gown, pass on the serenity
of the Virgin Mary: for this one is the real thing
--hundred-proof vodka with a dash of bitters,
a kick to the back-brain from one of the good saint's mules--
and her kiss blisters the lover's tongue,
drives into the throat like the beak of a hawk.

Gone into the desert, she sits outside the cave
in solitary agony, legs splayed, head back,
elbow-propped upon the earth, hair teeming,
screaming, voiding, ejecting at last (not
from between fierce legs that power into the earth)
from lips surrounded by her drenched hair,
odors of the sea risen to the estuary: Words,
fleshed, that incant John's gospel to celebrate
the morning of their nativity, welding to form another child

who pushes off the mother, rips her from its body,
howls for a host.  And when men come to take the child,
this puerperal vanity, the mother gladly gives it up,
a newformed untamed monster, willful fiend who
will give its captors what they truly need.

Kenneth T. Wolman

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