Burning the Buddha

Emily Gaskin

Barefoot, stepping on grasshoppers,
I come through the door you left open
and return to the bedroom and the bed
where you remain, sitting cross-legged,
wanting to know if I have again found my quiet.

Not until I'm dead, I say,
as I lie down, scorching the sheets
in the shape of a body.
For I am not yet ancient, nor wish to be
one more wise, king-faced statue
carved in petrific bone. I am fire,

and your sad, asbestos smile blocks
the flames rolling over my skin;
even as a witness, you will not burn,
but with a voice like sand
settling into dunes,
you exclude the mattress,
you exclude the sheets,
you exclude the argument of my body

until you are again the guru,
fixed on a mountain peak.
I grab your naked foot and spin you,
wrenching your stomach
around the up-thrust earth
threatening lava and smoke.

You will try to say you watched from above,
suspended from a spider thread,
but I know already your trap doors,
your politic retreats.
My teeth reach up to clip your thread;
you will tremble in this earthquake,
astral Buddha with your palms together,
you will suck this bile
and spit back fire.

© Emily Gaskin

Emily Gaskin currently lives and writes in Tallahassee, FL. Her work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Glyph, and a number of online publications, including Literary Potpourri, Pif, and Ideomancer.

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