Jun 21, 2011

First Gentile

Written by Rachel Mennies

Read by Nathan McClain

I promise him bitterness, salt, 
                                         the tastes of all my dead, gold and wax, 
the roots of trees. Against me, he is                                               
                                            scaffolding, linen, bicep and thigh, all
newness: private liturgy of high school hunger,
                                                snow collecting on his parents’ car.

I've just observed Hanukah, the consecrated
                                                                 fuel that burned on faith, 
young enough to believe in the miracle 
                                                  that’s mine alone: a forsaken fuse
and the hands that light it, 
                                                         the labor of soldiers and battle 
and cold, then the flame. He finds me
                                                  in handfuls — first hair, then skin,
then cries, then silence, his torso
                                                           redressed, tying his sneakers.

“You'd be better at this,” he says, 
                             at touching so quickly, efficient and practiced, 
“if you stopped thinking so much.”  
                                    But I have the worries of my great-aunts, 
their consonant names. 
                                                       After he leaves, the snow melts 
to puddles, the engine of my mouth
                                                               runs on the fumes of God.