Skin’s Dark Night Amy Pence

Anonymous Emmanuel

postcard, 1911: Laura Nelson and her son,
hanged by a mob from bridge, Oklahoma

                                                  All morning fog
                                                  along the hillside
                                                  flinty, trailed by white
figments: obsession, redemption,
source, our sickness. What god
lights up the sphere in
                                                  these freakish trees?
                                                  Christ breaks from my mouth—
                                                  dry as chalk.
Oh Anonymous Emmanuel,
my gingham dress rusty
with barbed wire—my soul
                                                  just lingering—fluted,
                                                  watching my body swing
                                                  so near me.
Pines, their barbarous spires,
leave shadows creased
in folds—
                                                  First noon, evening, then daybreak—
                                                  a murderous red earth
                                                  I cannot enter
that the men, their jeering
have defiled. Still, the air's
unstill. I'm spun like
                                                  a plum broken open. How
                                                  to reconcile earth with
                                                  the stain, my death,
my breasts still wet
with the sap of milk
for my Sara, my mouth
                                                  still with the unutterable—what
                                                  I did not say, could not
                                                  as they beat and hanged me
was Lord, Lord.
Scent where honeysuckle stifles
white with pink tongues:
                                                  laughter and the rape
                                                  of their picture-taking, how
                                                  they posed alongside me
my neck snapped:
spent. Dark hats
across their hearts.
                                                  My god eats in these
                                                  bestial trees, my soul flees.
                                                  Only when a weeping comes
with my people, boots
thick with red clay, only
when I'm cut free
                                                  do I fly, tunneling
                                                  to earth, to heaven inside
                                                  this soil and source.


February 2003 2River