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Jill Alexander Essbaum

I was invited to your torture and I went.
I brought no guest, I bore no gift.

This will do, something cold and hard
and small inside me roared.

Weak in your unkind season,
I did not listen.

Atop that hill, upon your cross,
I could not help but awe at all my losses.

Every one, they trilled in the air
like a birdsong dirge. I stared

at you with threadbare eyes
and became kinds of woe I’ll never classify

as the sun slid over a sky so blue it shuddered.
I swore I’d not recover.

Oh man of sorrow, black as pitch and sleek,
my scapegoat king disguised as sleep,

dark creature, grief have ye turned into gall
and we drank of it, royally.

And the name of our star was Wormwood.
And I crawled into your casket as a worm would;

my ends were bitter and thrashing.
But lovers are like wings

and one alone will never make you soar.
So mine is a whore’s

forehead. I do not blush
with shame. I tell you this

to impress you with my honesty.
These days, I drowse in spindles, loosely,

and upon unspecified linens.
This is no consolation,

as laughter’s but an ess away from slaughter.
I can and cannot help it, though I ought to.

Christ, if this be dreaming let me
never dream again. A devil’s duty,

I ghost through your darkness
better than some, though worse

than most. I suppose
that it pleases you to know

I’ve atoned for these transgressions.
Therefore: I sign my confession

Beneath whom only is Hell.

Jill Alexander Essbaum

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