Communion, First and Last
A girl will put some certain things in her mouth
without being asked. Barrettes, yes. Cat's tiny ear, it tasting
of peaches and tin. Don't have to beg our girl. Everybody says
to please cease with the coins, those known hosts. "Filth,"
they say, "Disease."
Going in just last week were some number of quarters,
gritty enough to blacken her tongue and them coming out of the
hand of the oldest man anybody here knew: and what a fever she
got, too, it soaring up and up and her becoming such a red-skinned,
God, was she hot!
How it was they all got that fever down our girl
can't answer. Ice packed in fists around her head is one thing
she remembers. Jumping and flying inside her open-mouthed dreaming
is one other. Keeping her fingers crossed, she'll soon go after
the nails of her own toes. Lacing tongue underneath sbe'll teethe
them, tear them, send them down. Mother's pearls probably right
after. Not the whole strand. One at a time plucked off and rolled
awhile along the roof.
"Precious," mother says.
Quick and over is usually how it's done. Redemption
comes. Swift sword. Throat goes a little raw. Unclean things really
taste about the same. Valuables. Wafer-thin scraps inscribed with
the names. "X O X O X" inked down in blue by every Tom,
Dick, and Harry.
Yours, mine, everybody's?
Zipped tight our girl's lips won't be singing any