Michelle Mitchell-Foust

ORPHEUS

I'm sorry. Lately I'm
thinking about Orpheus'
burned shoulder. He told me.
It's one of those burns
whose heat is hard to feel for miles.
Like a deep sting there,
not a mosquito, but a needle,
and then nothing, a gone
shoulder. Pink and billowy
chunks of asbestos lay
folded on the road,
like unlucky animals-
turned-insulation.
Absence made him
look back, sure. But it was
the absence of heat, the burn
turned tingling. A wet slack
of skin, and you can feel
the things you can't,
somewhere careening
like a new snow boarder
in a bright light.
The devil pressed some snow
to his skin,
but he felt only
the devil's hand
thrumming with a train
sound, cauterizing
the abacus of birds.
The devil whispered
to Orpheus, Remember
the wooden turkey cage,
a brood of screens inside
the size of your palm,
with one blinking, searching
watering eye on each.
This flock of eyes,
is yours to keep:
Not to acknowledge
the dark is
not to acknowledge
half the day.

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