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“Why are you on this way?” “So that I may return where I am.”

(Purgatorio 2.90)

My soul has leached into my skin.
Raw, haunted. Prayers become clouds
of breath across an icon’s varnish.

On a good day my thoughts rest
on the grass like shadows of grass,
blade by blade by blade.

I am trying to understand — in
a basic sense: to be beneath,
or even to be with

To run a hand along the branching
walls of ancient cities
as a way to know that I exist.

To mouth, like wind across
doorways, each voluble syllable.

Not to be bewitched by thoughts.

To handle stones: earth’s braille
scraping my fingerprints,
swallow touch into rough sense.

In an image blacked by candle
smoke, You press one finger
to another finger.

Some nights, a child-me would pinch
his miniature self, another room,
and on and on: compacted into sleep.

The storied worlds have looked their sights
away. The only faith I try—

A finger, pointing to
a finger, pointing.

The pinch of something touching back.

Bless this.