early life & castration of Zheng He

you’ve gone out into that tower of discontent, of our holy mother, the saint,
st. teresa of avila, aquinas, augustine — whatever needs we will ever have for confessions.
you’ve seen doctors, spent a fortune on medicine and the gestures of amphibian
delight – who was it who said their face is not a democracy?
‘you’ll be in my prayers’ becomes a way of making me disappear into expectation.
medicine, herbs, the old men in our lives, our parents, our manifestos
to childless futures. and your discontent, I cannot help, M, now that you are my life.
we are river islands now, soon to be forgot.
there will be no ceremony to your coming home in long garments,
and whether we are to blame Lot or his daughters,
or the one who sent the angels, or the fact that I’ve been too broke
to afford salt in Nairobi, who’s to say. what else is there now?
instead of hands I offer black ink.
music, birdsong, food, spices – & all these mean nothing now.
I used to think it funny that you cannot dance,
now it only makes me sad.
cries of the kitten mean nothing now that I am a man with
no empathy for the suffering of animals, a man in love
with one who loves strays.

shall I now hold you? make
you pasta? play you Ayub Ogada? recline
from your mercy? ask for

& why does your body now feel like it belongs under water?
not god-like, but like sculpture, like a Zheng He ship?
like a bad and long childhood, like a flightless bird,
like the figurine of our mutual discontent?
i carry all my saints with me, they belong to you.


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