Bible pages are thin like the
paper of skin, punctured, at times,
so cleanly, met with red grace;
the new intelligence is that of blood.
Just as prisoners get family names
tattooed across their shoulders,
the syrup of ancestral pride
meeting the tip of the needle
with each dark injection;
we carry our fathers on our backs,
their stories coded in our skin like
the shimmering gospels of centuries.
Fathers are the ancient intelligence of books;
I have shelves of them,
cracked spines with fraying thread,
dust floating from aging corners;
the segments of my fingers growing long
as I uncurl them from fists,
thirsty for pages, reaching.
The reach is the tragedy of the want
without the satisfaction of the get;
I learned how to reach from my father;
always too tall, his hands, somewhere,
above my head; lingering there,
or was it a halo,
dripping tears of light over the yellow hair
of pink-cheeked daughterhood;
The weight seemed unbearable on my back;
and with clean skin, I felt the heaviness
of love like skipping rocks in my pocket,
the solid iron slam of bars on the cellblock,
synonymous with the vibration of pipe organs,
the tattoo needle, poking holes in my skin.
Now, older, I am covered in the reaching;
my back bearing its weight,
attached to my flesh, the words;
touched by the needle, pain is the only
sensation speaking to my pores.
It is murder, really, this way of reaching
for a God in the heavy books
of man, only to close the covers,
and shelve them again.
Profile: Hannah Simon