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Grief Psalm, for Large Ancient Rock Band

"And the bees made honey in the lion's head" -� Reverend Gary Davis

My daughter, look, it is steaming.

I will dress up in fire. I will shave my legs with the sword of truth. I will paint my nails with Atlantic thunder, the blue kind that means gods are by. (The politicians of upstairs.)

Wouldn't you scream from excitement?

I will wash myself in hemp and clean my face with a sandy beach towel. This is all I know. We have a big wedding to go to. Look, daughter, how it steams.

Have you ever followed a seagull to its end? Ever loved a dime-store doll? We used to get rubber dogs at the five-and-dime, and I loved mine like real dogs, my panting herd to race the hills with.

Gloria in excelsis what?

Now the steep hills are gone to me as you lose the memory of a word.

Crosses or daggers, it all means the same. I, purgatory of waste requited. I don�t fit my old clothes.

Glory to what in the highest?

I will put on the makeup of righteousness that comes from the dime store of glory. I will make new high hills later, fashion them out of salt dough, but now we have a wedding to go to. Look, daughter, how it steams.

Pennsylvania, how it studs its hills with piercing spikes of flowers, put there by wrath, put by the side of the road by those who grieve. There was a car crash here, say the flowers, and in that crash someone died. I make my own flowers out of newspaper: how my playmates have grown and gone on.

I will apply the lipstick of greatness, the limestone mascara of love. Need I say? There are few rubber dogs in the hills these days. I mean steam that rises from a body.

Don't think for a second you haven't become alien, part water, part of the bathtub where you scrub with Dr. Bronner's Soap, All-One. Some kind of rising creature.

I will let the mascara to dry, then put on the dark glasses of a fool and hum. O sisters, let's go down, down to the river, sisters, let's go down. O sisters, let's go down, down to the river to pray.

Isn't it odd, part seacoast, part hills? Have you ever followed a seagull into its five dimensions? Such a wedding to go to, flowers, flowers.

My daughter, support my body and carefully annotate my dirge. How it steams, look at it rising into substance.

Pennsylvania, how it studs its hills.

This poem appears in the 2003 Anthology
View all poems by Gwyn McVay