He ends, of course, with armor
like an iron cast of rivets and seams,
the shield hewn from a living tree,
his spear with its phallic handle
and hooked tip, plus the mace
spined on all sides like a stegosaur,
beneath a facemask fixed
with ram horns or a victim’s skull.
Later, undressing after battle,
we see the soft hands of servants
peeling off his stained metal webs,
then his heavy vest of toughened
leather tooled with hungry lions,
softer cloth for padding, finally
some good luck charm hung
like a clapper against the heart—
scrap of maiden gown, stag’s hoof,
perhaps a pouch of homeland soil.
Further still—the downs of hair,
strata of muscle and fat stretched
like greasy paint on a cage of bones,
enclosing what hovers on the soul:
the darkest river, clouds of organs
like angels blocking the light.