Glass Poetry Press

Volume Six Issue One

Ken Massicotte

We Are Sorry For Your Loss

A head writhing with snakes conveys discord. The sad woman poaching eggs in a murky cottage — her worn face in the white shawl staring past the broad-faced boy with cropped bangs, tender hands — glowing in candlelight, the promise of salvation. Bat wings appeared when the Tartars came. My father warned of carnal enticements strawberries and cherries a stranger in the park offering treats; we believed in the devil without horns — hairy body, hidden hooves. I wasn't frightened by damnation, preferred Jan Steen's tavern maid with the cider pot — red hair adorning her neck and bare flesh of shoulder blades curving down the flow of her rounding copper-brown skirt — turned in grace from the drunken crowd to read the heedless fat man's crumpled scroll; the cherub girl in the red velvet cloak smiling at us over her fiddle heralding this annunciation; a pensive boy crouched down sneaking, tilting the spout of her pot to his lips. Who can resist Botticelli's Madonnas? But Satan with his pitchfork is hilarious to us now. We tire of Jesus hanging from the cross. As a kid I didn't realize it was human sacrifice, in the moonscaped backyard of Sudbury I rode my tricycle into delirium as a soldier of Christ. My religion chimerical — the giant Christopher fording the river; the first beast a lion, the second a winged cow; the pale horsemen, the blackened sun, the red moon. I often dream of bears the first animal to be worshiped. My mother sprinkled holy water chanting Satan be gone. But I passed out in a dirty hotel searching for a single face I knew; a red-eyed Rottweiler guarded the room; I turned but couldn't escape the foul air, the everyman sins of the father. I returned to weeks of unanswered mail — we are sorry for your loss — bowed to my meal of barley and mead, the rough plank burnished like bronze in the afternoon sun.