Given

     1.

     My first Mary's house smells of memories and frankincense--frankincense that we use to mask the smell of the dead.
     There are many things we have not to remember.
     Mary has a way of kissing me, so that my mind falls away into sand, and the sand blows away on the wind.

     2.

     My mother Mary has flesh like the flesh of marigolds, and strands of hair like strands of gold. She does not seem like my mother. Each time I try to ask her what I should do, she is already asking me.

     3.

     My other Mary gives me too much of herself. I am afraid, too, of what I have given her, of what has been taken away in the giving. She paints my body with myrrh, rubbing it into my skin with her long, brown hands.

     1.

     Mary's sister Martha is like her shadow. They are side by side even as they knead the dough of the bread that they bake for me, bread as hard as the debt I owe. And Martha's eyes glitter hard out of the shadow that is herself, asking even more of me.

     2.

     When Salome dances, I am up a mountain, falling and falling. And falling, I wonder, would it be better to be caught in the dangerous softness of her arms, or to hurtle downward into the interminable safety of the earth?

     3.

     And Joanna and I, each other we worship,
     as if two alone on a lonely ship,
     the horizon curved like a woman's hip.

2/00, 4/27/00

Jim Genzano




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