(for Steve Hiatt)

Hold sleep, the certain knot of peace,
you’ve found her—church supper, in eulogy, changing
money in the narthex, buoyant, brightly unstringing
carnival tickets from a spool, marking tallies,
stamping hands maybe, respectably engaging
the grinners come to gorge, but absenting
herself from the long tables spread with vinyl sheaths.

The prepossessing shadow,
behind her, steam, shell crackles, the festive slobber,
of the congregation, the rascal parson and his hidden lobster,
a game old as the first boy’s first urge to tiptoe-
stalk a pretty girl, unwrap a twitching hand, roust her
with some creeping thing, some oddity or monster,
to force a squeal and chase her through a meadow.

Once more to gather sweet corydalis,
so—bigger boy, bigger bug—the alarming pincher and crusher
aflail, dripping, flexing tee, holding it forth to smooch her,
splayed tail plates, eyes on little springs, all cartoonwise,
the minister manifestly gleeful to approach her
at Gabbatha with treyf sacrament, so entirely unkosher,
pinned by his fleshy palm in crustacean panic fathomless.

To hear the chuck-will’s-widow,
so are we all of us bound to shun its spasms, as Egypt must
have fled the frogs that slurped forth from the crust
around the clotty Nile, bound to allow
no chop to acquit the butcher’s smock, bound to exhaust
malignance in remorseless chasing, no dust,
the old grave banquet, its live companions to endow.

Hold sleep, the certain knot of peace,
The prepossessing shadow,
Once more to gather sweet corydalis,
To hear the chuck-will’s-widow,
Once more to soothe my true love’s sorrow.

Greg Sendi

Greg is a writer from Chicago. In the past year, his work has appeared or been accepted for publication in a number of literary magazines including Apricity, Beyond Words Literary Magazine, The Briar Cliff Review, Burningword Literary Journal, Clarion, Coal Hill Review, Great Lakes Review, The Headlight Review, The Masters Review, Plume, San Antonio Review, Spectrum Literary Magazine, and upstreet among others. He is former fiction editor of Chicago Review. His career has included broadcast and trade journalism as well as poetry and fiction.

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