TEACHING EZEKIEL TO WISH
begins with the fragile vee
slipped, still tensile, from warm, moist flesh,
rubbed clean and left to dry
on the stove’s white enamel.
One afternoon, as his sister sleeps
and his father, sipping cinnamon coffee, reads,
Ezekiel watches his mother twirl
a pale filament between thumb and index finger
as she describes what he is supposed to do.
It isn’t easy, this child’s game:
to select an object from memory
without naming it,
to turn a thought into an action,
to let your whole mind ring with desire
and do nothing
but grasp the tissue of a dead bird
and break it.
Wish, bone, wish, bone, opposites
conjoined with mystic intent, rite
of transubstantiation in the kitchen light.
In a moment, the ritual is completed,
the grey fragments discarded
amongst peelings and orts. This time,
my son is told, the thing he desired
will not be his.
He nods, but does not understand.
Nor do I.
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Copyright © 2008 by Bradley Steffens
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