Here is Where
The unmapped fields are mouths of red and purple worms
and blow flies blue as royalty lead the way
to beetle drum and scrape, they lift their dim gray hems
to count the heaps and sing the broken teeth
of who knows what and who knows how
best to mortar blackened bones together, brick
by knuckled brick
and knotted joint into the last stand the last man
booted out in a blaze of glory,
all for one for the history books but
Nevermind nevermind trill the troubadour arthropods
and I agree. Fat-happy, gloss-feathered, beak-deep
in the rich clotted dark I am a patient chef in the musical iron steam of the abbatoir
the scribe of the crumpled field
the soft ground soaked in red confusion.
Off with the heads of the rusted red streams, lost
in the feet of the leafless hills that sag and slump to the ground,
taken. There is no slant obelisk or wall scribble-scratched to say,
Here is where. I sail, I scan, I crouch on the stained brown sand.
I sharpen my claws and quills.
Stone, flesh, paper, it is all the same
I’ll hum while I straddle each page.
Before I die, I will dabble my toes in the Ganges
and caress the face of a statue
in the jungles of Angkor Wat.
I will bear a carved stone breastplate, heavy
to haul up dry Sinai slopes
and I will hold the blue jeweled hands of Vishnu.
I will trace a nameless arabesque
in a sunlit mosque of tiles, shining
the muezzin’s call floats above, a beaded necklace of desire.
The drought-summer garden rattles, here, brittle
while I rake, tines clawing, deep-dowsing
bright bits of bone, fingers of compost, the carcass
of a rabbit the cat killed weeks ago.
Dust petals spiral in the air,
breathe in the perfect fragrant helix.
Set down the shears,
abandon the sweating bucket for a better view.
The journey to paradise is short.
A graduate of Duke University, Janice Eaton Akers has edited, authored, and co-authored many adult nonfiction and children’s titles including The Book of Wizard Craft, which was published in 20 languages. Before she began writing full-time, her photography and visual art explored issues centered on the representation of trauma, genocide, and secondary witness. She and her spouse live in Arnaudville, Louisiana.