Purification
(From "The Moon Reflected Fire")

In Taiwan, a child washes me in a tub
as if I were hers.
At fifteen she has tried to conceal
her age with makeup, says her name is Cher.
Across the room,
her dresser has become an altar.
Looming largest,
photos of her three children, one black,
one with green eyes, one she still nurses,
then a row of red votive candles, and in front,
a Buddha, a Christ, a Mary.
She holds my face to her breasts, rocks me.
There is blood still under my fingernails
from the last man who died in my arms.
I press her nipple in my lips,
feel a warm stream of sweetness.
I want to be this child's child.
I will sleep for the first time in days.

©Doug Anderson


 
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