Second Takes

Plea to My Jealous Heart

November 2013

Pray without ceasing.
—St. Paul

What’s funny is that you think I can stop praying.
That you think I take existence—blown dandelion
across a philtrum—lightly, as irresponsible
birdsong. As the wren, finch, chickadee & prairie warbler.
As scarlet tanager, indigo bunting, laughing gull, trumpeter
swan. As common sparrows
outside my window canting dervish loops. Sparrows
that court the air & multiply. As all the love
at all times, everywhere, you think I take too much in.
You think I take communion wine for granted. Sometimes
the other wine touches me sweetly & you know it. All
the time you know it. This & how communion wine
indebts me—as the man granted new eyes
on a hiking trip. How, when his boot met wet dune, he felt
the sinking in. & still you think I can stop praying? How
hummingbird? How sailfish? Mother of pearl moth, little
dragonfly. Old, faithful greyhound. O elephant herd
in a room of rodents, how you have me! Have me
delirious, haggard—hungrier. To hear you
at all times, if it’ll keep you redlining reverently.
That’s how I love you best. As stethoscope, not
scalpel. As ever-flickering filament, not
kite-adjoined key. Forgive me, a sinner afraid
of lightning, but when I ask you out, o whistling
tail pipe, you suck air from lungs. I inhale & need you
& you know it. As whisper. As hum. As trade wind
& storm, you show yourself no matter my asking.
& when I ask, o elegant cyclone, you wrench flesh
from bone, bone from hip socket. What’s funny is that
tender tendon is the blessing & you know my bird bones.
My blood, you course it. You know my slow capacity
for recovery. What’s funny is I feel bad for that
& you think I can stop praying? When my lover locks
our pinkies in a crowded art gallery, I praise the body, praise
every kissable knuckle, every painstakingly etched wave
in a fingerprint, & you think I could take a host for granted
o center of every body? O all-knowing ebbless red sea
I want to look in your face & live this beautifully always.
O metacarpal, proximal, o distal phalange, all-powerful finger
in a breast plate, touch me light as a feather, please, jog in place.

Originally appeared in American Poetry Review, May/June 2013