To The Daughters of Sceva: R.L. Stollar
Note from Ryan: I wrote this almost ten years ago. In 2004 I dedicated this poem to my friends, and I re-dedicate it to them now — and to all the other brave individuals who have shared their stories this week.
Somewhere I went blind in the conversation —
somewhere between the epidermis
and the angels —
somewhere my stomach lost its way
amidst the tangles of a prayer and an
agony, an anger, and all I hate.
Here is a scar; there, the bruise.
This is the air we breathe.
But the images burn deeper than the words:
I took all the precious porcelain perfections,
pictured the angels skating across their smooth, body-washed shells,
saw the angels’ traces, the less-porcelain pained faces,
the ethereal ballet,
the euphoria of one salt water ocean masked by another,
the liquid rose smiling at the black heart processional
projected to all as a cherry blossom joy.
I know not how many angels can dance
atop a pin, nor less do I know
how many have danced upon you —
what red slippers they wore, or
if they performed Swan Lake and the shell was the swan,
or if you ask for encores,
or if the show sells out — and how often.
Yet I know this night hurt.
I know the heavens broke loose with a shout,
and archangels, legions with blessed wings,
trumpets of the spirit (the spirit is the sword),
they descended tonight upon my red tremors,
they did a pirouette and I have lost breath and
appetite, and I feel silence, clammy as death itself,
I have a need for Tylenol, and let me effuse:
Can I not cast out angels
nor summon the demons at my command?
Can I not have arms of such love
so as to encircle the universe?