Dinah Roma

This history of hands
invites precise worship:
the back taut, feet restrained
under the thighs, hands heedful,
the head solemn
as we lay vulnerable
the ripe whiteness on the ground.

The woman is the radical.
Onna, a name freeing her,
held fast in heavy tip—
the quick pulse of a dark sword
casting her hip’s shadow.
Saka, the insistent sanctuary,
our earth’s hieroglyph.

He hands me the fine brush,
sodden still for the next stroke.
In the quiet, I sit unhurried
waiting for lines
to swell at edges
for the moon to free the tide
for the heathen womb
to be the only shrine
in the distant mountains.

A dip in the inkstone
breaks his thought: Leave her
light and magical. There is no
other pilgrimage but this.

I rest serene
the slender bamboo on his palm.
These scripts of faith
between us he now leaves behind,
to seek the gentler slope
where the gods’ sacred palanquins
hide their hearts’
slow hesitant descent.