SPRING 2013 (Issue 78)

Adam Tavel

Elegy with Painted House & Open Mouth

What else but home is there to call the dust
of snow that pads a roof for sparrow feet
where floating flakes, O grandmother, arrest
their impasto thick against scarlet bricks?

For my whole life above your couch this house
in oils hung from its larger self until
your sister staring at the porch's screen
saw the tennebristic face of Christ emerge.

A trick upon the eye and nothing more
I scoffed until I stood alone surrounded
by little squalls the day we laid you down.
I snapped a dozen cell phone pics to test

his hair and beard and ghostly almond eyes
against the scrutiny of someone sane.
Each time my canker nearly healed I burst
the sore again. I'm sorry for your loss

was all my dentist said to the scrolling
photos in my lap. Yawning wide I slurped
around the steel he scraped inside my gums
to ask if he could see the house dissolve

leaving only the hazy spectral face
those hysterical fishermen's wives
caressed with sacred Sabbath oils before
as Mark records they sealed the tomb with stone.