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In the Breath of Ten Thousand Metals

From: Tampa Review
47/48, 2014
pp. 24-25

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Almadén, Spain—1583

We have all committed crimes. Whether or not
they are the ones we were accused of—lifting
a loaf of bread from its carrier with spell-weighted
fingers, a lost blue horse, the wife we forsook
for cold islands of macabeo in the night—guilt
forms in our hands each day like a pound
of cinnabar. Pander metal, the always hunted
or latticed. Lustering as the deep-knowing
sky that watches us. It’s that we want the guilt,
we want the heaven, we want the red lead.
And we are told to find it. Or soon our bodies
will fall into the long, entropic tomb rimmed
with its unavoidable scatflowers. In our two
shirts, the breeches and stockings, the single
hood we wear to bring darkness close to us
as it will come—the apothecary, the cup
of water as large as a child’s hand, the sun
that imprisons us more than the men who say
they have imprisoned us—all of the provisions
we are given for each day to pass are not
enough. With buckets, we bail the rain out
after the dog-hungry storms. There is nowhere
for it but over our shoulders, back behind us
in the place we just have walked. Some men
write to their mothers and ask for coming
back. Back beneath their melancholic skirts,
calico and ugly as the face of someone who has
spent the evening with her own yeasty tears.
To where the wind won’t fiss, where
the mercury in its fat pails won’t find a way
to talk to us. There are sounds and there are
soundings. In the hymnals, it is not the same.
The chaplain, who is one of us, asks silver
coins for when we will not give over our
hour to God. And where is he down among
the mines, hero of the picaresque whose name
does not have surrender in it? It is taking
our hands—the poison—it is a beautiful thief
to talk to us. To tell us the rivets. The spangles
which could be horses in the night. Instead
of dreams, the whitening shape. Into a cup of wine.
An ear crinkles in the fire, a sole or a pot
of shoes right before the oven’s door. Not a crown
to our heads but something blooming. Listen, our
teeth have found a way out. The hell is with us
inside and forever now, it is our own unending
skeleton. Every bell, every bell that has turned
will turn and turn to gold. There will be no
justice for any man. Only our toxic bodies,
which after all are innocent.

Sarah Crossland  

Sarah Crossland earned her BA in Storytelling (Fiction, Poetry, and Folklore) from the University of Virginia and her MFA in Poetry from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in May 2013. She received the 2013 AWP Intro Journals prize, judged by Ben Grossberg, for the poem published in this issue.

Copyright © 2014 University of Tampa Press
Project MUSE® - View Citation
Sarah Crossland. "In the Breath of Ten Thousand Metals." Tampa Review 47.1 (2014): 24-25. Project MUSE. Web. 25 Apr. 2014. <http://muse.jhu.edu/>.
Crossland, S.(2014). In the Breath of Ten Thousand Metals. Tampa Review 47(1), 24-25. University of Tampa Press. Retrieved April 25, 2014, from Project MUSE database.
Sarah Crossland. "In the Breath of Ten Thousand Metals." Tampa Review 47, no. 1 (2014): 24-25. http://muse.jhu.edu/ (accessed April 25, 2014).
T1 - In the Breath of Ten Thousand Metals
A1 - Sarah Crossland
JF - Tampa Review
VL - 47
IS - 1
SP - 24
EP - 25
PY - 2014
PB - University of Tampa Press
SN - 2326-4101
UR - http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/tampa_review/v047/47.crossland.html
N1 - 47/48, 2014
ER -


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