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Marly Youmans

The Mineral Night / A Child in the Likeness of God

A Child in the Likeness of God

How did it start? I gave a man some bread;
He was hungry, that's all I knew of him.
Surely no one saw me give him the bread.
Some other men came then; they wanted me
To tell them names. All day they shocked my flesh.
The next they hung me like a side of meat,
My toes grazing the floor mat as I swung
Like a terribly slow pendulum weight,
Hours tugging, unsocketing my arms.
The next day there was less inventiveness,
Long beatings with a rod on back and thighs.
I couldn't stand. At night, the officers …
After that I was no longer virgin,
Though I was only seventeen years old
And never married, never knew a man—
The blood made streaks that dried against my skin.
I found no light on my Damascus road;
I gave them what they wanted, and I died.

The Mineral Night

On Whitacre's version of
"Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"
Listening to an old, worn poem,
So familiar it's been
Rubbed clean of every charm.
But now it is sung, and the night
Is borne by xylem and phloem
Back to its source, and dim
Forest and lake mean harm
As before: not one twig is trite.

—Marly Youmans

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