Vessel ©

By Roy Dean Doughty
Written March 26th, 2009

Listen here for my reading of “Vessel.”


The day has slid away like green letters
On a blue ground, or blue letters
On a green ground, or red ones
On a white one.  But the list of its
Constituents is written so tinily,
That the sound of our intense straining
To read it, cracks the necks, backs, hips,
And knees of those the sun has compressed
For too many seasons.
The reader finds the message illegible.
That’s how night happens,
The exhaustion that comes without
The respite of sleep, the mesmerized
Gawking at the twitching shadow striations
Invading the vulnerable house,
The furtive look out, up, and into
That thick mollusk flesh embedded
So luminously, so sharply,
With all those little, aimless shards of fret.
We are tired. Tired.
So the eyes become passive,
But the sky does not.
It fills with fluttering bits of stars,
The mollusk flesh dissolving into mists
Of the tiniest of dragonflies, each one with a tinier,
Forgiving, human face.  They hover, almost
Successfully, in one place, the mass
Drifting westward from a living east,
But so slowly, so silently, that they seem
Like those ragged saints who stop us
On the street, and move their cracked lips
Plaintively, but do not speak.
The body cries out for relief.
And now we hear a chitinous, crackling sound,
As the whole skeleton shudders, and collapses, down,
Down through the misted flesh, like shattered glass.
Now we are hollow.  Now we are still.
Now we are ready to be filled.

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