Inheritance

 

We are the wastrel heirs of Knowledge.

Poor Sophia, she rode the currents of dark
and built her light, a monstrous mound from which
nothing could be removed.
Today, she lies dead at our feet,
her body whole –
only her heart is gone.

So we, her children’s children, plunge fingers
into the pile that has frightened us for so long;
it sticks to our hands, trying to seep through the skin.

As one we draw back. This is not meant
for hands as pure as ours.
Someone – tidemarked elbows showing
how deep he had thrust – mentions a market.
“People will pay for this,” he tells us,
“They will not know how little it is worth.”

We cannot shift it whole – how heavy it is! –
so I, the bravest fool, carry samples beneath my tongue.

To bright lights and tin noise, our
chosen home, we trip. God watches
from his xenon cross, blinking sleepily
as we play. The house does not know
the coin we carry; no credit is extended, no
back alley bargains struck. We turn

and he is there. Ragged beggar-man
with hungry eyes, “I
will dice for it,” he says. “I have the means.”
He shows us deeds to nations,
bank drafts and patent papers,
mining rights,
charts and charters and crocks full of gold.
Beneath my tongue, the taste grows bitter.

“No dice,” says Elbows (why
have I not seen him before?) “We trade.”
In slickest style, the bargaining begins
and when we wake, back in Her house, the pile is gone;
we are left with an old coat and papers
full of power. Here is the world, to rest in our palms;
Elbows wears a Gucci crown.

And I? I want nothing
but to taste that bitterness again.