Even the dust he clapped

from his sandals rises, an epiphany,

in the vacant dawn. The chaff surrenders

to sunless wind, and even sinners know the nullity

of the flame’s embrace. The agony is not

in what we are but in what

we might have been.

Fishhooks glint from the red-root

wound, pulsing and snagging

at forgotten truths. Tucked

like dreaming children

under blind eyelids, they stir,

and waken, and rise. The useless legs stand

and know their meaning again.

The other cripples watch, envy black

in their mouths, and wait for the man in the alley. And claw

him to his newborn knees. And crack him open

with their crooked canes. And kill him. And

kill him.

With wasted limbs they lie, breathing,

by the corpse who is one of them again.

They touch him, gently, as if to touch a dead man

will unshrivel their flesh, unruin their souls,

and their tears are chaff, and their sobs

are dust sinking in the lifeless air.