Raw, Dark, Dank, & Fog. Surely, the names of lawyers or Tyburn executioners
Dickens might have invented. Let’s say, Whipstone Raw. Pinchbeck Dark.
Frogspittle Dank. Cuffington Fogg. This giddy fever makes me laugh out loud.
Whoever they are, they louring over my bedposts now, one knotting rope
for a noose, another shaking open the hood, the third hammering the last
of the scaffold, the fourth assaulting the trap-door with his worn out boots.
In my dreamy state, I don’t seem to mind. It’ll be no more than I deserve
for all my transgressions. They drag me by my muddy shift toward daylight.
I blink in the sun. But when I step barefoot onto the warm splintery wood,
I suddenly pity my poor body, which instigated no trouble in this world,
my innocent foot walking toward its death at the hinge. Somehow worse
than dying is what will certainly follow, and here I sink to my knees:
the autopsy--carving and cracking open my ribs by technicians inured
to human fluids, organs, stringy tendons, fat. I’ll float above the chilled
aluminum table. There’ll be no celestial light beckoning home my soul,
only the swinging shade like a censer over their scalps, the kind of lamp
my father kept low like a tent on a corrugated fence of baby chicks, once
holding me up under it to hear one feathery heart. I won’t be warm again.