We crawl through the tall grass and idle light, our chests against the earth so we can hear the river underground. Our backs carry rotting wood and books that hold no stories of damnation or miracles. One day as we listen for water, we find a beekeeper— one eye pearled by a cataract, the other cut out by his own hand so he might know both types of blindness. When we stand in front of him, he says we are prisms breaking light into color— our right shoulders red, our left hips a wavering indigo. His apiaries are empty except for dead queens, and he sits on his quiet boxes humming as he licks honey from the bodies of drones. He tells me he smelled my southern skin for miles, says the graveyard is full of dead prophets. To you, he presents his arms, tattooed with songs slave catchers whistle as they unleash the dogs. He lets you see the burns on his chest from the time he set fire to boats and pushed them out to sea. You ask why no one believes in madness anymore, and he tells you stars need a darkness to see themselves by. When you ask about resurrection, he says, How can you doubt? and shows you a deer licking salt from a lynched man's palm.
From Our Lady of the Ruins: Poems by Traci Brimhall. Copyright © 2012 by Traci Brimhall. Reprinted with permission of W. W. Norton & Co. All rights reserved.