Thursday, April 29, 2010

26/30 "The Dead Sea Knows Its Name" by Gus Wood

Catch your rippled reflection in a glass,
in a gourd, in an adversary's skull.
Watch your face dissipate into sunshine,
tilt the vessel back,
drink the water.

Feel the echoes of a thousand year strife,
feel them ransack your throat.
Feel the salt strip away your voice
until it's all blood, all gnarled raw,
until it's rubble and all you can dare do
is spit up your madness,
and choke.

This is my blood, your water,
my outraged waves cresting to splinter
the West Bank.
This is my name made all too palpable.
This is your Dead Sea.

This is the elements putting on a parody
of its people.
My hands are stigmata'd with shrapnel,
my sides split by sniper fire,
my deep blue tattooed with the endless
rat-tat-tat-tat of an AK-47's signature
riddled into the mud of my womb.

There can be no life in my waters.
Your legacy was left churning
into hemlock stink waters.
I am inhospitable even to the unnatural
architecture of fish, algae.
The salt in my spit will shred the insides
of such life into razor-bladed scraps
of paper, into pink ribbons too rung
out to cradle anything but old animosity.

I am caked with your routines,
the constant summer sun blackens my tides.
My water knits into jagged teeth,
smashing into the shore,
stabbing it like chunks of molten metal,
like shrapnel.
I suicide bomb with each sand-scattering wave,
trying to convince you,
trying to share my religion.

I am begging you to see my cliffs,
crusted with salt so coarse
it could stay there forever.
like the way your wars threaten to be.

I cannot hold anyone close enough
to sustain life.
The water too dense to bring you to my muck,
to my jagged diamond-cut womb.
Everything floats, I will not hide your dead.
My waters are ancient balm
to make mummies of kings who saw themselves
equal with the sun.

No fish swim my waters.
I am all chew, all blender,
all gnarled mouth and rock salt,
You West Bank bloodthirsty dirt-children,
the ones locked in war,
I beg you.
Stop trying to match my waters' mercy,
trying to churn your red-stained sand
into my salt waves.

Stop trying to ascend like the flesh
floating to my surface.
You're all drunk off my stinging salt-song,
off my stabbing pain in your throats.
Stop washing in my waters,
I will purify nothing.

I am your Dead Sea.

You are my dying people,
pouring my gnarled salt,
on your open wounds.

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