My mother holds a knife to her breast &
threatens to cut the bad thing out herself.
& I made tea with honey and caught all the flies and put them
in a jar. They go on living inside the glass.
They go on living by the thousands. & I feed them
nothing, so I know they are lonely. Loneliness and
hunger are comorbid disease. // I am sinking my fists
into the stove water. I am standing at the window in nothing
but my socks. We do not call ourselves brave
for the little things anymore. We have to topple buildings. We
have to put the knife down. It is not enough
to say I took off the lid, & now my house is
full of flies. This requires the full attention of mercy.
& If mercy exists in any life, it is exhausted.
If summer has lungs, it is breathing out.
Morning breaks like a wild animal.
The light, a simple, heavy weight
as though dawn were a single syllable
and not a sisyphus stone. Summer cracks
like an egg into the center of a pan
and all at once consumes me.
Once the jellyfish all beached themselves.
My father’s hand on my hair
gentle and no more than once. We walked
out across the sand and shoveled their bodies
into pails and- careful-
flung them back to the water.
I don’t know what survived.
Once I waded as far out as I could reach
and practiced baptism.
Jellyfish are fragile like wet tissue or skin.
I wanted to love, and couldn’t bear it.
I crawled to shore wrapped
by welts and crying.
I said, It tore is arms out just to hold me.