WHEN CONCEIT DIES
When conceit dies
I will kneel upon a doorstep
grass in my mouth
and beg forgiveness.
This is how battles end,
one adversary walks
with offerings of plated humility.
Wounds of war are long-lived,
as long as wars themselves
plus decades more;
scars old and whited over lie
sidelong with seeping fresh cuts.
There is always fighting the day before surrender.
Offered feasts for flies
among the dying yellow grasses.
Wives and mothers wend
from blood-mud to muddied blood
searching freckles and moles
to trace with fingertips.
By these marks they know him.
having no place beside biers,
must lay themselves out on fields
of scarlet poppies, must prostrate
out of earshot of village and clergy.
Their tears water blossoms
still living; that their loves may die,
always holding honor,
in absence of the dying blooms
on their graves.
When conceit dies,
I will wipe my tears
with handfuls of dirt.
I will gather up the reeds
among the blooms.
I will crush them in my palms
until a ball of pain
becomes my breakfast.
I will kneel upon her step
in silence, unworthy of the knock,
and wait until the breath
of the opening door blows
the pollen from my hair.
Splinters of weathered-wood decking
pillow my thighs, stomach, elbows
hold up a chin in hands.
Fireflies dance just out of reach.
Darkness descends, then inflates;
pressure of night with no moon.
This is no sight. No formless shape
brings itself to eyes, midnight blue-black
or starshine clear. It is a waiting time,
breath held tight against ribs,
expectation tactile in each exhalation.
Eyes focused on the black sky
scan from edge of horizon to edge of horizon.
They come – blankets of streaking white lines
tumbling in straight trajectories from northern skies.
This is a prayer, a reverence, a loss of conceit;
released breath mixes with humid night air
while whispers rise to stars –
there are not so many wishes
in the entire world.
Copyright © Victoria Kelsey 2013
Victoria Kelsey lives in Liverpool, UK.