Not the one with the sash, but the slash.Phoenicians had their reasons, part origin storyfor seasons, part religious myth, and this is partly whythis Christmas I found for you a fruitful grenade,an apple of a little purse you can pull the pin fromwhen you need my attention. Only youshould disarm each dormant fire alarmwaiting for the skin—the yellow-red betweena half-healed bruise—to crack and be torn backso we can see the cells the human eye is blind toin blood blown up. I know you know red’s number.
Your grip, your reign, is tough and tender as a braincrossed with a life-size heart and a horizontalhope-to-die-trying. Color’s crucial. Your surreptitious kissesare richer when you try dyeing your lips a gothic redfrom those rubies you hide under your tongue.
Show me that lustrous scarlet ribbon hiddenin your mouth as in a Bible marking last things,for you are more Madonna of the Pomegranateholding the child holding the fruit holdingthe seeds like vermillion bees to be bornfrom a crimson honeycomb. How longwill you question what it wants before your winter sleep?When done running your tongueamong the last of this poem, I don’t worryover those little bits of moist paper you spitlike pretty adjectives, your saliva shiningon them like the pink tint of the winter sunsetting on the Mediterranean off Mojácar.From mouth to mouth, we can pass the secretlike a clandestine jewel in wartime, each fourteen caratgarnet kernel, teardrop-tactile honey apple endingon that wild-cherry-grapeseed bite. Feed me, comewith your 365 chambers blazing in one heart,and we will drink. And that intoxicating aftertaste of ink. [End Page 48]
John Poch’s most recent book is Dolls (Orchises Press, 2009). He is professor of English at Texas Tech University. In Spring 2014 he will be a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Barcelona, lecturing on the subject of American poetry.