It didn’t take him long
to caress the grilled flesh, the thick
bath of garlic, the holy mass
of blood his daughter didn’t want to see. All too soon
his own mouth opened to accept
this special offering, the
overcome mushroom, the beer can’s
succulent release. Again. Again. The small orgasms
of a small Ohio town. The houses
planted out into the fields, row after row, the crop
of the devil,
when the devil is hungover. His own daughter
watching from the other side of the picnic table,
thinking he is a demon too. This daughter,
who has lived this land forever, sated
with this one true religion.
A propane auto de fe.
So she heads away, her own
cornrows merging in infinity, her friends in a rusted Toyota
pulling out onto I-76
to the great unknown beyond Youngstown. But,
years later, so many continents irrupting
under her llama-wool belt, her mouth will water
and she will bow her head. A piece of meat on the fire,
cut into tiny strips. Take this
she will say to her father, not knowing
if he is even still alive. The taste eternal
of smoke and grease
changing into ash.
Daniel Bourne’s books include The Household Gods, Where No One Spoke the Language, and the forthcoming Talking Back to the Exterminator, the recipient of the 2022 Terry L. Cox Poetry Prize from Regal House Publishing. His poems have appeared in Ploughshares, APR, Boulevard, Guernica, Salmagundi, Yale Review, Pleiades, Shenandoah, Prairie Schooner, Plume, and elsewhere. The founding editor (and current Translation Editor) of Artful Dodge, he has lived in Poland off and on since 1980, and his translations of Polish poets appear widely. A collection of his translations of Bronisław Maj, The Extinction of the Holy City, is forthcoming from Free Verse Editions/Parlor Press.