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Published: Tue Jan 30 2018
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.

Once a year they let her sing,
the idiot child with the voice
of a heavenly ghost on fire,
too big for the body she’s in,
too wild for the staves of this
one-room church, the common
meter of the psalm and hymn.
Not to mention the small pearl gate
of the human ear. Once a year
this bargain struck between mercy
and art, which is another kind
of mercy, which is another kind
of art, which spills its alleluia
over the lip of the double bar,
over all the others in the choir
until all music is her music
to relish and bedevil. Look
at the face she gives to others
discomfited with strange delight.
Look at how the phantom crosses
the chapel threshold of our pity
into something larger, more
rare, saying, let there be harps
to sour the wind that plays them,
let a motion sickness dizzy
the gifted, may you hear it rock
the infant to nightmare all
the colors of the sun, to pour
through the sleepy eyelids of amen
over the quiet that is not
sacred, and the quiet that is

See what's inside AGNI 67

Bruce Bond is the author of thirty books, most recently Scar (Etruscan Press, 2020), T**he Calling (Parlor Press, 2021), Behemoth (Encounter Books, 2021), winner of the New Criterion Prize, and Patmos (University of Massachusetts Press, 2021), winner of the Juniper Prize.​​​​​​ His other books include Words Written Against the Walls of the City (Louisiana State University Press, 2019), Plurality and the Poetics of Self (Palgrave, 2019), Dear Reader (Parlor Press, 2018), Frankenstein’s Children (Lost Horse Press, 2018), Rise and Fall of the Lesser Sun Gods (Elixir Book Prize; Elixir Press, 2018), Blackout Starlight: New and Selected Poems 1997-2015 (E. Phillabaum Award; LSU, 2017), Sacrum (Four Way Books, 2017), Gold Bee (Helen C. Smith & Crab Orchard Awards; Southern Illinois University Press, 2016), and Black Anthem (Tampa Review Prize; University of Tampa Press, 2016). His work has appeared in seven editions of The Best American Poetry. He is Regents Emeritus Professor of English at the University of North Texas. (updated 4/2022)

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