Last Night Innocent III
Punish me offwards. Illiterated and miniscular,
creaturely and grieving, I will twist my spine till thin
as branching chandeliers, hardly now trunk enough
for your hatchet to splinter free a Sycorax, ax prying
at entrails so detailed fornication’s hundred forms
seem curiously limited, insufficiently dental, glottal,
larynxed. Invagine me yonwards, soldier that you are,
Christ’s man and glad of it. November vents its wyverns,
wind scissors through my very boots, opens me cleaner
than your majuscules, your descant, antiphon and mass.
Ding-Dong Bell, blaming me weakly for God’s forgotten
knowledge; deafen me; act openly. Legs outstretched,
mare-backed; give into me, pour your wax. Pendicular son
of Mother Church, kiss me, seal me, please. Tell me,
is there, was there, ever, startling Father, any graver
whimsy than was mine, ever a more choral thanksgiving
than was yours towards this crustulum? To you I yield.
Deep-gripping ward of my threshold, be twice a pestilence
and twice a cupping glass, scalding and bleeding to heal me
with horrendous sores, bittercold draughts, underwater cures.
Brood over my waves, that break and flood and freeze
within me daily, and number them, like sparrows, hairs,
or any fallen thing. Preach me your whole ghastly quadrivium.
The Temptation of St Anthony (detail), 1500
Oil on Panel
Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, Lisbon