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For John Torrington Resurrected from the Ice

Jennifer Footman
From:   St. Valentines Day. New Brunswick: Broken Jaw Press, 1995.


The scientists unearthed my son
for scientific reasons. In science,
they say, ends justify means.

John, they found you and Hartnell and Braine
140 years dead and fresh as today.
I formed you well, preserved choice flesh.

They claim lead solder in the cans
killed you and the rest of Sir John's men.
But we know better, you and I.

A strange northern lethargy flooded
over you, took you into its sticky white fog,
drowned you in its pincer.

Your open eyes accuse me, John,
Your lips curl back in a comic grin,
expose your perfect teeth.

I hear the words you'd say if your jaw wasn't
tied shut like a mumpish child.

        I am cold, mother,
        my tongue is glued to my palate with fear
        of the voices possessing my head.
        This haunting shreds my mind
        furrows my soul
        even my thoughts are brittle.
        These new wisdoms
        eat a man alive
        eat a man dead.

John, I see through the shadow
of your half-shut eyes. You peer as if amazed
at being freed from your grave of ice.

        I see a world sour and sick, Mother,
        would dearly shut these tired balls of ice,
        keep my hell to myself, watch nothing of yours.

I feel the signs you'd make
if your hands were free of the thongs
binding you like a man ready for execution.

        My signs would burn the living white hot.
        I have been on the rack and back
        have had my fill of Eliot's
        `frigid purgatorial fires'.
        I dance the sign of the cross, Mother,
        etch it deep into the heart of hell,
        lick the world with the devil's tongue.
        I dance Dervish dances, mother, dances
        learned from echoes vibrating in ice.

Go back to your frozen grave, leave me to mine.
Time is done, incense bells rung.
No more son, no more mother.

We are ashes and dust,
Perhaps in our next resurrection we'll find
dead scientists and dig them up to conclude
our story,
justify our own ends.


Jennifer Footman's works copyright © to the author.


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