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Histories 8

by Chris Abani

When you first see a man die

from a machete cut or a bullet,

which is to say, when you first confront

the astonishment of blood and feel it

creep over your skin like a sugary sludge,

even though the cracks it wets are not your skin,

but really the obsidian of the road,

you feel sick in ways you thought not possible.

A deep and wonderful bile

that can never leave your stomach.

And then the days pass and you become familiar

with its ways and it bothers you no more

than cherry syrup dripped over pancakes.

You grow bored and impatient with it all.

With the shock of those just-arriving moments.

After that, people can die around you day and night

and you go on without noticing.

My capacity for it scares me.

Blessed are the undefiled in the way.

There are two ways to view the body.

Resurrection and crucifixion.

Everything that falls between is ritual.

from SanctificumFind it in the library

Copyright 2010 Chris Abani
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

Published in Chris Abani Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.