in Three Parts
Sit in the close room. Roll up your shirtsleeve.
Your forearm is corded by blue veins. Eased
to the surface by another heavy August day,
in this, your new city of subways and white noise.
Your arm has an abrupt topography. Lashes
put down by a metal object. Something came
and gave you a sign: mark yourself thus, and
you’ll again be able to eat in the company
of others. Mark yourself and let your currency
haemorrhage, let it pool in the strange basin.
Swallow a cup of water. Wash yourself, walk.
Pass your fingertips over the scars. They are
raised, parallel. Like the railroad sleepers in
the backwoods of the back town, where tall
trees in narrow silver suits let light perforate
your ignorant face. Before cities. Before
their incoherent premises, which echo and quake
and cause the body to mutilate, then bloom.
Ralf Webb’s poetry has appeared in the London Review of Books, Test Centre, Oxford Poetry, and elsewhere.