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Two Poems



"All Puffy and White, Goldish, Harpy, and Angelonic"

This the neighbor boy's exact description of heaven. Which he blissfully ad-libbed from the pulpit, like some Shackleton on laudanum describing the white hell in which he was forced to sacrifice his own sled dogs. But laced with tenderness. Take that, Saint John of Patmos, take that, Thomas Aquinas and dour Kierkegaard, with your cubits and mystic ecstasies and dialectical ladders. Something about that nasal teenage voice, all mercy, lifted me out of the morass of nettles I call my life. He wore a fauxhawk and flip-flops, a Star of David etched in ink across the back of his right hand. Not for symbolism, but for the fun of it. Next week a smiley face, the week after that thunderbolts. Oh, to be seventeen. I was already back in the nettles, clenching and unclenching my fists, like a seasoned sled driver deciding which of my loyal huskies to eat first.
 
 

In Toledo, the Sequestered Brides of Christ

In Toledo, the sequestered brides of Christ make marzipan. And devotees like me buy up the sweets via a three-chambered lazy Susan in an alley. Hear a voice but glimpse not the heavenly hands, an enterprise both savvy and vaguely eucharistic. "To taste the kingdom in a crumb of dough," I say, a privilege to misquote Blake, even if it's only to myself. The recipe dates back to the Court of the Caliphs, as alchemic as it is simple. Shouldn't every traveler make a habit of eating earth, wind, air, and fire? Not to mention almonds, which must equal 50 percent by weight to pass muster with Toledo inspectors. I pay, turn the lazy Susan, and walk away with my own tin of marzipan, the abbess's unseen blessing dusting each morsel. "Eat and be made whole," I can almost hear her say. The body of Christ is a fish—delicious. And now a star, like the one that guided wandering kings. And now a sword, two-edged, like matters of belief. And now—forgive me—my Lord is a serpent. Spiraling in on himself like vortex or Milky Way, my faith quickening as God's scales dissolve on my tongue.


Lance Larsen

The Southern Review

Summer 2017


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