Am I a Barbarian, Joseph?
...nor what the potent victor in his rage
Can else inflict, do I repent or change,
Though changed in outward luster…
—Paradise Lost, Bk. 1
What skin has my skin
bruised and why? How
or if? Is a moth the reason
for its own unyielding attraction
to flame, or is flame its reason?
Before humans, what did moths
harass at night? Lightening fire
or a lava flow, the moon itself,
or its reflection in a still pond?
I don’t know about nature
or whether it is a mother
trampled further to dust
year after year by its own
wild & negligent children.
It could be my own skin
complicated or eroded
by yours instead of bathed
and set out to dry in the daylight,
adorned with bruises set to flesh
by your skin, ruptured
& blossomed as you wished
upon command of my will,
your own will a wine I drank alone
because I am a barbarian & brute
of needy force so dire as to command
pressure when all you wanted
was to be a good god.