Heat/Stroke

Crawled. I
                crawled. Knees and palms.
                                                                Concrete scratching
my fingertips.
                                My heart’s heat a rotten star
                                                                                in my chest, ratcheting
with each breath,
                                blood-flush
                                                through my right temple
so loud
               I was sure the deer off the trail
                                                                               could hear it.
June day as still
                               as my cotton tongue.
                                                                A running man burns
five hundred calories
                                               an hour,
                                                                and I wanted that hour.
Wasn’t there. I
                               wasn’t there.
                                                I was in my head, my room,
the framed picture
                               of my body five years before,
                                                                                             thin and slender,
knee-deep in the lake’s
                                               burnished silver surface.
                                                                                            Trees surrendered their needles
and pitch onto my shoulders,
                                               a sharp perfume
                                                                               like loss, both sweet
and sting.
               And, face warm against concrete,
                                                                               I wanted to lose.
Lose those years
                               and be buried in that glass frame,
                                                                                             in that photo’s thin body.
I was there,
                               inside that perfect,
                                                                               that everything I wanted.

 

Revival, Epworth Bible Camp, Summer 2007

I’m the strut of starlight
in the open tabernacle—
I’m the songs of leopard frogs
in the dew-spackled grass.
all backbone and fire-wrack.
I’m the warp and the wrest.
I’m the rasped ash
of a wasp rising, rising,
I’m ridden. I’ve rode.
I’ve rid. I’ve lost
my tongue, my tonsils.
My throat’s an owl falling,
thorn-nicked.
I’m burr-licked.
Gnat–kicked,
I’m clown and cloud
I’m the end.
And the end.

 
 
Photo by Tom Hilton

Kirk Schlueter
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