I should tell you a tale of journeying
through three domains to this last place of departure,
the three principalities
which followed the hardening of my beard
and the softening of my now withered eye.
The first place of self-gratifying is shameful to me now
yet cannot in truth be denied. I find its heart
in youth of my acquaintance
so absolutely sure that significance lies with them
so rapacious, so brazen, so sinister that all is crass,
about filling the gaping maw and scratching the unquenchable itch
with no thought of what is ravished
to what end and what consequence.
Yet these harsh uplands have borders
where the cannibals descend on the city walls for spoil
and are trapped in the snares of the slave traders
and borne to market with coifed head and manicured hand
for sale. I too have stood in line for the fondling of the foreman
and have borne water and hewed wood in acquiescence
because a man must eat and pay the price of eating.
And yet I remained unnourished, my heart longing
for the return to the highlands of the third place
of sincerity but this time transformed, already dead
wanting nothing and serving all.