The City of God

What thou lovest well is felt violently.
Stays on in us. I know Paradise is not
the cypress tree God showed me as his heart.
Is not the country, is not beautiful.
It is the city streets in bad weather.
Small dirty shops with custard pastries
and coffee and steam-covered windows.
I do not speak the language of that paradise.
Why am I so happy to be going there?
Something rings and cries and shines
and is black in me. I am walking with it
into the City of Heaven. I will smell
all the people, my body hot inside the shop.
Rain will be falling heavily outside.

Chosen by the Lion

I am the one chosen by the lion at sundown
and dragged back from the shining water.
Yanked back to bushes and torn open, blood
blazing at the throat and breast of me.
Taken as meat. Devoured as spirit by spirit.
The others will return quickly to drink again
peacefully, but for me now there's only faith.
Only the fact that the tall windows I lived
with were left uncovered halfway up.
And the silence of those days I lived there
which were marked by your arrivals like
stations on a long journey. You write to say
you love me and lie awake in stillness
to avoid the pain. I remember looking
at you from within at the last moment,
with faith like a gift handkerchief, delicate
and almost fragile. This is the final thing.
Purity and faith, power and blood. Is there
nothing to see? Not memory even of forgetting?
Only the body meeting the body? What of faith
when it meets death, being when it is hard
to account for? The nipples you bit
and the body you possessed lie buried in you.
My faith shines as the moon in the darkness
on water, as the sky in the day. Does it hover
in the air around you? Does it come like
a flower in your groin? Or is it like before
when you were alone and about to fall asleep
saying out loud in the darkness, "Linda,"
and hearing me answer immediately, "Yes!"

-both by Linda Gregg
from Chosen by the Lion (Graywolf Press, 1994).

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