by Garrett Flagg
A giant skull of hematite, a massive dune, gigantic translucent fingers jutting to a cloudless sky clasped in prayer: A monastery. Travelers find it when thirst dulls the mind, its compass pointing anywhere. I trudge on up and slide down every third step— eventually arriving at the mouth of the skull. Two massive incisors beckon like doors; I lean and push myself in. Incense and smoke, pews inhabited by prayers. I kneel, bow, make a cross. Look. A dove says to look: under the skin, past tissue and vein, deeper than blood, past bone, into the throbbing. All my travels arrive at this point. Shame. The done that cannot be undone. The faceless mirror. Shame. A magnet that draws me to an oasis hidden in a ravine, where a spring once flowed. It is sun-bleached, a disarticulated jumble of femurs, digits, and ribs. I lift rocks, dig where the sand is darker, looking for a seep. All my life I’ve gambled for a drink and found in false water mirage enough for a spit. I have sought myself in the shiniest glints by jostle and grab, stepped on and stepping on, burrowing for shade, stealing the sun. And now this, this futile meander into the bite of the viper. Everything, everything I’ve done is a gasp soaked in sweat. And so I lay myself in fever, face up, arms spread out beneath the night’s deep blanket. Is there nothing but running toward and from, running into the arms of one more promise, one more betrayal I call home? How have I come to this hole, to this lonely tree charred black? I will hang my tattered clothes upon that tree and ask for a star. Is there not one for me? Not one? Are we not of substance the same? Hot, violent, extreme. Who is this orphan scream in the vast, celestial womb? I will draw a map, kneeling in the sand. I will gather up by nerve and muscle, these bones.
A retired educator, Garrett Flagg devotes his time to drawing, painting, photography, poetry and pickleball. He has traveled widely and published poetry in a variety of journals, including: Third Wind, Cream City Review, Greensboro Review, South Florida Review, McGuffin, etc. He lives in North Carolina and maintains a Facebook website called SeedROOT: YWrite.