The Fall of Man
The Fall of Man.
We study the Holocaust at school.
“The Catastrophe, ”
the Jews have deemed it
in their language.
I write, “Shoah” on the board.
We watch a video.
They gasp at the pictures, the horror.
ever the patriot, affirms:
“I’m glad I live when and where I do. We would never let something like that
I flip on CNN when I get home:
The knobs of knees and forearms
cut angles from the thick, dusty air;
the inner thighs—
the part we American women
watch so closely
have sunken away and,
if the legs were pressed together,
a gaping oval would still separate them there.
the hairless arms are riddled with
in places no bones should be.
tainted white buds
of infectious, curdled mucous
spring up, spotted, across what may have been
shins—or necks, once—
like aged yellow blossoms
sprouting from the potatoes
I was saving for a special meal...
while I gorged on the other seventy-five dollars of groceries
for the week
the balls of knotted brown rubber
the tangled configurations of
a crooked finger here,
a distended, vacant bowl of something like a stomach there,
all joints and
lie balled up in that corner there,
another pile of knots in this corner here—
closer to the cameras,
whose bulbs reflect in pools of urine,
the sticky film that makes a bed.
“Thank God we found them, ” says the Marine.
“Where will they go from here? ” inquires the newswoman,
all charity and American pity
and good will,
wrapped up in her leather jacket,
her round face aglow against
the grimy backdrop
of the tearing of God from Man.
She is very concerned.
The Marine’s jaw slacks
as he drops his head
to survey the degeneration, the unraveling evolution,
the guests at this funeral for hope.
He reaches slightly for a tiny,
tortured, finger-like stick
clinging to the crib railing—he tries to re-connect,
to fix the fall, perhaps. (Michelangelo might be so proud.)
The finger is too timid, though,
too weak to answer back.
It is tired,
and the branchy limb
slips back into its
It is such a comfort to know, then, Nancy,
that we would never let something like that happen
A damned good thing.
I flip the TV off
and go back
to eating my dinner.
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Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
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