Tonight’s poem was originally published in the Mutabilis Press anthology Time-Slice: Houston Poetry 2005. Priscilla Frake, the poet, read it at the last reading I attended, and I knew immediately I wanted to include it in this year’s series.
Fire and Brimstone
I’m about to become translucent,
a permeable shadow. Prostrate,
I sprawl along the metal altar,
where acolytes regard my chest
with bored and painted eyes.
They shift me and prod me and draw
on my skin with indigo Sharpies,
connecting dots made days ago with needles.
My arms are pinned above my head,
my face averted, twisted down.
I’m in the crosshairs, unable to move,
afraid to scream. The machine
heaves over me, lowers,
caresses me with sub-atomic
fire: a buzzing vibrato with clicks.
It’s invisible, painless,
My part is done. I dress and leave.
Outside, I wave to the child who waits.
She is the Girl Who Comes
with her Pappy-Who-has-Cancer.
I am the Lady with the Hat.