Writing What You Know
Or, what the child learns about the free market from a church pew while draped in white sateen with its chin tilted up to kiss the Bishop’s amethyst ring
and while he was sleeping they took
one of his ribs and closed up the place
with flesh so the midwife took a scarlet thread
and tied it on his wrist and said
— this one came out first — so I took from you
with my sword and my bow and then you
took a stone and put it under
me and I sat on it and so you plundered a cake
of bread — drowned it in oil —
why are those people sitting on the floor and why are we and daddy sitting on the benches?
— and I took a skin thin wafer and placed
these on the fat portions of your right
thigh and so you took the goat from her
for the offering of sins and slaughtered her
lambs and offered them to me in return
I then —
THIS LITTLE PIGGY STAYED AT HOME
— took all your cities and then you took
them all back in battle and so I stole
away the city square but no one took you
into his home for a night so I took
you as my concubine and cut myself
into pieces and sent one piece to each region of —
THIS LITTLE PIGGY HAD NONE
— your inheritance and so you took
two of my servants and my son when
I took the wood and then you took off
your gold nose rings and gold bracelets
and you weighed them against —
go ask daddy for a rupee to put in the velvet bag, oi, but genuflect when you cross over to the men
should I wait for the crying-song first?
no. you should go before that
— her body and I took your two wives
and your two maidservants and your eleven sons
and crossed the road so you took the two tablets
out of my hands and —
should I bite down on it when it is in my mouth like thisth wath why hey donth laufth ath me
you’re supposed to wait for your spit to make it soft
— you broke them to pieces
before my eyes so then I took your swords
and attacked their cities killing
every male and so you took over the trumpets
and I set an ambush to your fields so I —
if he went susu while hanging up there, would the soldiers have to —
please stop. OK, lets wait and ask daddy.
what is VIN-YEE-GARR
that is what romans drink when it snows like americans drink hot chocolate and the English drink tea if they are rich. but here we all drink tea and that is why they came to stay with us
— I took the boy, young as he was, along
with a three-year-old bull and flour and a skin
of wine, and brought him to your house
and I took three javelins and plunged them
and you took the man and put him under the date tree
and I took some dates and ate them and gave some
to my husband —
when do the people walk in with the snacks for Jesus?
yes. the offering
— and he ate them too and so you took
him away and then I took a garment and laid
it across your shoulders and we walked
in backward and covered our father’s nakedness
together and then —
what will happen if someone swallows it? I heard that a boy in Velachery died after he swallowed it and then the Pope cut his stomach open to get it back
but how did he do it?
he bit off the Bishop’s finger
— you took my maidservant and gave her
to your husband to be his wife and then I came
for your son
and all those born in your household
and bought with my money
and so you took the ram
and then I took ten of your camels
and so you took the dove
and then you took the ark
and so I took the child —
THIS LITTLE PIGGY CRIED
WEE WEE WEE
ALL THE WAY HOME
— and the next morning I took the stone you
had placed under my head and set it up
as a pillar and poured oil on top of it
and when evening came you took fresh-cut —
can I have one more rupee for the beggars at the gate?
you should learn to save your birthday money for them
— branches from almond trees and made white
stripes on them by peeling the bark
and exposing the white inner wood
while you took stones and piled them in a heap —
the people with the wounds on their hands and face, are they indians or foriginers?
you say ‘FOR-RIN-ARRS’. foreigners.
LEP-ARRS. they are lepers. we should pray for them. all indians are our brothers and sisters like in school
— and we ate there by the heap
and when the other women threw you
into the cistern when the cistern was empty
with no water in it and so you took my robe back
to your father and said —
We found this. Examine it —
do they pray for us?
ha-lay-loo-YAH HAHA ha-lay-loo-YAH HAHA
will you please
and so I took off my widow’s clothes, covered myself
with a veil to disguise myself and so you took off
your veil and put on your widow’s clothes
and so I took a scarlet thread
and tied it on your wrist and said —
— this one came out first —
where do we keep the lepers in our family?
we don’t have any lepers in our family
— so you took the grapes and squeezed them
into your own cup and put the cup in his hand
and when he took the cup you took
his signet ring from his finger and put it
on your finger and you drew the water
to wash their feet and culled —
what are CULL-EDS?
It is a verb, an action word, like “take”
can daddy culled us to ice-cream after this?
can you pay attention?
— fodder for his donkeys and then we saw him
play his hands like snakes and saw
that when he took them out they were leprous like snow.
and so you put your hands back into your cloak
but when your took them out
they were restored like the rest of your flesh.
and so we knew —
who made them foriginers?
god made the lepers but first they were like us
but what were we like before we were not like them?
they are like us but they can’t feel pain. and they get it from each other.
like from you and me?
yes. like family
— we knew, sister, to take a flint knife
and to take off our earrings and take off
in the night and take half
of your blood and put it in bowls
and to sprinkle the other half on the lands
we had left and you took off
my skin and burned it in the fire
ground it to powder scattered it on the water
and made me drink it and then —
is it over?
until next Sunday
— sister, we took
the city and burned it and you took
the fire that burned and burned it in yours.
hold your breath at the gates.