/ / Issue 17

To test your pulse as you sleep.
Bring the healer           the howler                the listening ear— 

Bring                an apothecary            to mix            the tincture— 
             We need the salve
the tablet                        the capsule 
of the hour—                 Bring sword-eaters
and those         who will swallow fire— 
Fetch the guardian 

to flatten the wheelchair, 
to hoist it toward heaven:
the public shuttle awaits 
the ceaseless trips to the clinic.
To the bedside manner 
summon witness: this medic’s
disdain toward patients                        the physician’s dismissal 
of pain—
And call the druggist, again, to drug us senseless— 

Bring a nomad              to index our debts 
             tuck        each invoice                 into broken walls 

of regret—                   Call the cleric                the clerk 
             the messengers divine—
Summon someone        collect the prayers               buried 

or burnt            tied to stones              sunk in seas 
             dunked underwater                              until all dissolves 

The tickets rustle in a hat, the carnival music slows
A lottery ball spins, the carousel stops, the candy machine spins gold 

Bring now the scribe. Let it be written:
There is no shepherd, no Sherpa, no moonlight guide 
for these, the darkest journeys of our lives.
Who will lift the shuttle above the outposts of the living?
Who will watch it rise and rise?
Who will clear a path among all the wreckage?
Who will weave a nest for all the birds of passage?
Who will bridge the gap between savage and salvage?
Who will sing 
over wilting stalks, rough husks, silk
still gleaming
like hair in a dream?