Poem: Mercy

Deirdre Maultsaid

//You could be a true God’s whore.
You could be a Flirty Fish, showing the love,
witnessing, and winning others into the kingdom.

You could halve a pear and paint a still life–bronze and ovoid.
You could haul the slow way down Chuckanut Drive,
the winding highway reminding you
to never eat again for the sorrow and sparks inside,
ending because of the fervorless man,
the blank pear of his face,
how he hurts you, how stolid is the world.

You could be winding down the highway,
and still end up in a concrete
stand-alone clinic
in a newly treed
wayside in Bellingham.
This is America.
All roads lead here.

In the clinic, while watching lozenges of afternoon light on the floor,
you are made ordinary and yourself again.

You could stop at every gas station
and feel the worry,
but you are crossing the border to a new country.

You are picking stars.

You are tasting the fruit.

Avoid moral absolutes.
Think of Polish women invaded.
What if you still had to witness and keep it, to keep him in?
Does that make you God’s whore creating an emblem of his love
or God’s pear,
or just one more vale of tears extinguishing the closest star?

A slogan does not carry you far
along a lonesome highway: “Every child wanted.”
A slogan doesn’t strengthen you
at the lecture of a thought leader.

You stand in a row of friends outside
while across the parking lot
frothing, fervored, mean, insane,
they shout: “Thou shalt not kill”.

There are police
everywhere in their navy, billyclubbed truth.
Your friends are shouting back, “You shalt not kill women”.
You are in their arms.
A phalanx of navy, jet-packed and sinewy,
a phalanx of spitters, God’s whores,
and a phalanx of confused friends.

So, this is democracy–
the sweet, clean, full repertoire of solutions to our problems.
Moral creole and no mercy: the music of our times.

You could say it:
dead is when there is no
brain wave; alive
is when there is.
The end and the beginning.

Put the pear halves back together.

You are not asked to solve it.

You could, but everyone is shouting,
and you are thinking of the Pacific waves,
grey and glazed, running beside the highway
when you were
and were not part of our social shame.

You think only of the painting you have not finished
–a woman turned away,
walking toward a low moon.

The painting is a moral absolute.
The woman the moon the magic.
How you loathe it.
Be merciless.
Why not paint her with milk wasted,
dripping on the sand or paint her splayed out.
Paint some rock gargoyles sitting in judgement,
their tongues out, their troll twisted faces.

Paint her alone making impossible choices,
her morality
only a clean,
knife halving.

Paint her alone,
taller than any rocks,
caressing stars.

Paint her as you could never be:
gallant, caring for you,
reaching across history for your virtue.


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