No soap for the washcloth, no salt for the brine
that is dinner tonight. Mercury columns
insist the cold is too much for a man to endure
but, closer than ever to God, what you do
is endure and endure. With grit. Other inmates
use their washcloths wrong, weave sheepshanks
well into the moon time, climb their new ropes
out of the dungeon, out of the range
of exquisite redemption, as the first birds
scream. Once it’s the sun time, they toss rocks
they’re tied to off a bridge — but which partition
hope their speeding chests to pierce?
All the ocean in this soi-disant world wouldn’t
be enough for their baptism. Beneath
that surface dwells a door that’s very locked.
Water would be nice, you suppose, but God
bleeds no fluid when you wound him.
His arteries, if pierced, fart dust.
Never the less, the smallest drop would do:
just one lick! From one stalactite! The ocean
and the heavy rain and the morning dew and
the rations your cleaved lips find ample
and the tears of other, better-behaved
men would be yours to yank tempests from!