A Cause for Bewilderment (poem)

When you look out from where you are to where you will go
and you see clear as day the monsters on the path
each one waiting for its turn
to backhand you across the face with a clawed hand
and knock you to the ground
and plant one massive foot
the better to hold you in place
while it uses its teeth
to rip mouthfuls of your flesh
and spit them out again
because this is not about butchering
it's about butchery
oh, and they laugh
don't forget the laugh
the laugh is almost the worst part
it is a cause for bewilderment
that at that moment when you are staring
at the horror that awaits you
a stranger does not step from a doorway
and whisper to you
it is time
and melt away again in the crowd
it is a cause for bewilderment
that you don’t immediately find yourself
in a room lit only by candles of varying heights
with a small group of intimates
your old nanny
the first minister who was first minister
to your father and your father's father
a priest in fine woven black
a brother in rough woven brown
and you know they see the monsters too
and you know they are there to robe you for war
to peel from you the fashions you are accustomed to
but will never wear again
to bathe you in the bergamot oil that will keep you from all harm
to clothe you
in silk woven by virgins as they sung
masses in your name
and when you stand ready
with the candlelight glinting off
your outer layer of the finest of fine chain link mesh
they present to you a sword
so well forged so sharp so beautiful
it has a name
and you kneel
sword in your hand
in front of the statue of the mother and child
and the child’s marble lips
whisper to you
from the moment of your birth
I knew you were the chosen one
in your cradle I whispered to you
of this moment
of your destiny
Oh, and there's a horse
don't forget the horse
waiting for you outside is your horse
black is not black enough to describe him
not the kind of black that fades in sunlight
he gleams in the light from the torches
jet black blue-black
the horse, too, has a destiny
and the horse knows
it is a cause for bewilderment
with monsters on the path
when you tell people you can see the monsters on the path
that none of this happens
the group of intimates does not assemble
no first minister old as Merlin
no candles, no masses, no body armor
no sword with or without a name
every statue you pass is mute
unsuitably dressed for war
you battle on as best you can
you knit almost-square dishcloths
stacks and stacks of dishcloths
stacks and stacks of dishcloths
in all colors of the rainbow
you could put a knitted dishcloth on every sink
in this county
you make yourself a nice pot of tea
and then another



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