by Jesse Nathan

Whose bread I eat, his note I sound.

   And so at last John Donne’s ghost spoke. Leaned up
Out of my book and nearly bit me.
   “Seven,” he says, “sponsors creation but
Also vice. Three (and four) holy, but three
            Marks the rooster’s count.” His face
               Was gold, pounded thin. “I say
            Use me like an eggtooth, break

   The shell that shields you, let me be the germ,
Hoarder-of-calcium, the bulb of sharp
   Caruncle, expression of beak (of horn)
A toothlet to snout-thrust, barb
            To barb what’s cracking away
               By the very thing maintained
            And encased. Enamel glaze

   Grades the puncturer’s tool. Draw the breath
By drawing the hole. Use my imbalanced
   Device, half-medieval, to shuck frank death
As you surge with goodbye. As you fast
            And breathe and pay,
               Supposing the face a blade
            Sustained to sing and to fly.”

Published on June 23, 2021