(Affliction of spirit)

Imagine the bullet cracking her skull,
entering the frontal lobe, the blood
under her face like a halo, the flood
of her final breath, inhaled and exhaled, full
of peppermint and smoke, or her head
pressing down on her warm, wet hair.
There is no peace in the sound of a prayer,
just as there is no sound in the dead
silence of an eyelid or leg muscle
at three-thirty-six in the morning
that’s the repetitive language of sin
not surrendering in sweat and hustle,
movement attempting to hide all warning,
a ritual peculiar to angels and to man.



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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 23 Number 5, on page 34
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