Jeffrey McDaniel


You prowl the streets of Amsterdam
so high that the bicycle wheels seem to spin
through the air like metallic constellations,
and there’s such a disconnect
between how high you are and how
the Dutch are just living their lives,
pedaling home from work, and the sky
is so swirly you wonder if Van Gogh painted it
and you run your hand along the railing
overlooking a canal. The sun packs up
its light and pulls it away
like a child dragging a yellow towel
from the beach, and then the red lights
flicker in the multiplying darkness,
but instead of blond Serbians
in face paint and translucent negligees,
men in black robes with stiff white collars
stand solemnly, and instead of pin-eyed
middle-aged tourists and college boys
drifting in, it’s ten-year-old boys
entering the glass cages, fed
to the beast of the lord. And you thank
your cross-eyed stars that you were raised
agnostic in Philly. You remember how
you’d go with your friend, who was an altar boy,
after Saturday sleepovers, and stand in line
for the man, who dipped his digits in
the finger bowl so you could open your mouth
wide and let him place the body of Christ
on your eleven-year-old tongue.

JEFFREY MCDANIEL is the author of six books of poems, including the forthcoming Holiday in the Islands of Grief (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020). He teaches at Sarah Lawrence College. 

Issue Six
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