A Poem by Matthew Dickman

I like the inner lives of the silverware; the fork,
the spoon, the knife. I appreciate
how they each have a different reference toward
god, how the fork is Muslim,
the spoon, like a stone, is Buddhist, how the knife
is Roman Catholic—
always worried, always having
a hard time forgiving people, the knife kneeling
down in Ireland and Africa. In San Francisco
my lamp has become a temple.
Every time I turn it on the light moves out across
the room like a meditation,
like a bell or a robe
the way it covers everything and doesn’t want to
kill. Light is the husband
and everything it touches is its bride, the floor,
the wall, my body,
the bronze installation in Hayes Valley
its bride. The lamp chants
and my clothes, my hat thrown in the corner of the room
chants back: nothing, nothing. In my next life
I’ll have no fingers, no toes. In my next life I’ll be
a bougainvillea. A Buddhist monk
will wake up early on Sunday morning and not be a fork
and not be a knife, he will look down at the girl
sleeping in his bed like a body of water,
he will think about how
he lifted her up like a spoon to his mouth all night, and walk
into the courtyard and pick up the shears
and cut a little part of me, and lie me down next to her mouth
which is breathing heavily and changing all the dark in the room to light.

© Matthew Dickman


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