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Poem: The lost tribes, part 3

 

The lost tribes, part 3

By Patrick T. Reardon

 

The lost tribes found me

alone

as she and he stared into each other’s eyes.

They found me

with drool chafing my chin,

a clump of flesh that nervoused her,

carried by him like a bag of shit,

solitary, wanting to be alone.

 

The lost tribes found me

reading the line of ceiling edge,

reading the patterned fabric of the big blue chair,

reading the universe of sun-shaft dust specks,

reading the random touch of his thumb on left heel,

reading her awkward grasp,

reading the never-end beyond the window.

 

When no one else was looking.

 

Chewing the brass ashtray.

 

Alone

in that Madison Street second-floor flat,

where he was a silent blue-uniform strut,

where she rearranged furniture,

when David had yet to arrive

and Mary Beth and Eileen and Tim

and John and Rosemary and Laura

and Marie and Kathy and Teri

and Geri and Jeanne and Rita.

 

When I was a family too large for her and him

to hug.

 

The lost tribes found me

on her lap,

turning from her as if she were the mother of all fears,

turning from her,

turning from her,

turning from her,

turning from her,

turning from her,

as she turned from me.

 

They found me

chin-thumbed by him as a joke.

 

Facing the camera with cosmic blankness.

 

Alone

at my first birthday party,

at a loss.

Learning the camp rules, bent on survival.

 

They found me

invisibled,

checked-off,

unpersoned,

salt-pillared,

erased,

eradicated,

disappeared,

but fed, clothed, diaper-changed

— proprieties must be observed.

 

Hugged by pajamas.

Empty of words for two years.

 

Eating someone else’s bad investment.

 

They found me

bad-pennyed.

 

Learned in self-betrayal, Iagoed.

 

The lost tribes found me

wine turned to water,

blinded by mudded spittle,

dunked in the leprosy pool —

“What else would you have of me, woman?”

 

They found me

tinyed by judges woven into my billions of neurons.

 

They found me

bottle-feeding her cult Kool-Aid.

 

Hemmed in,

squeezed,

squashed,

twisting my neck from his thick hand around it.

 

Told to smile.

 

They found me

with David at the altar of God

in our black cassocks and white surplices,

messaged by gold and flame

and incense and soaring space,

but hearing a deep transmission:

“I am not worthy.”

 

Running toward pain,

each wound a caress.

 

 

Patrick T. Reardon

6.12.20

 

The poem originally appeared in Gravitas 19.2 on 5.8.20.

 

 

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