Anastasia K. Gates
If he were beastly, he’d be the bengal
but the bengal is not a beast.
He is the man who did not marry
but the hermitage of his garden.
Buried in the pit of the forest
where a rabbit from another world, I run.
There are no houses here
but the mud where he tills his secret.
When the onion flowers untie their bonnets
I see they are his children.
This is a land of the orphaned
why we drink the forbidden water—
an underground that dilates the pupil,
his hair in the dark, graying as a menagerie.
He climbs into the heart of his black walnut tree
and breaks off a branch to lay on my doorstep,
roasts it in a bed of stone to smoke the fever out—
the way old men iron their daughter’s underwear
who have long since been gone.
I frame my hands upon his jawline,
sharp enough to cut through bone,
and say, godfather.