SECRET PLACES OF THE STAIRS

May 6, 2008 at 6:43pm (Poetry)

 

Telling secrets

in the secret places of the stairs:

 

Fingertips, like lighted candles,

reaching out, from the dark

 

                       (O my dove, thou art

in the secret places of the stairs)

 

reaching out from the clefts of the rock,

from the secret places of the stairs;

reaching out, going out, going dark

in the secret places of the stairs.

 

O daughters of Jerusalem,

I am black but comely,

like a tent at midnight

with a lion crouching at its door,

sniffing at its door,

under a full moon in an empty sky

on a black night of a blacker god

who whispers secrets to the lost men

giggling in the secret places of the stairs –

the congregation of the lost men, the broken men,

the men sans hair, sans teeth, sans everything.

 

I cannot bear to keep them anymore,

these secrets of the secret places of the stairs,

nor dare I speak them

even though you question me incessantly,

 

                              “Speak! Why do you never speak?”

 

I never speak because I lost my tongue

where the dead men left their bones

and the living pick at them.

 

I dare not speak

except to those who cannot hear,

who have no ears to hear,

but hide in fear

among the secret places of the stairs,

squatting in the dust

and muttering their prayers

to a black god in a blacker sky

surrounding a dead moon

on a still night

 

in the secret places of the stairs.

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