It is writ that my body is a temple, sanctum sanctorum, that the architect's name bind my hands, inscribe my forehead, collophon my doorpost. That I dump holy grains down my gullet, to let wholesome crumbs fall out. So much is handed down from on high.
But the scriptures know me not. They never visit me at home. They know not where I live, nor the sort of house I keep. My temple is a quarry of vapors, where all day surface-fires score the rocks. About my mouth, doleful phantoms moan, who in life never chose a side. They are led whereever the gadfly takes them, these unvoiced, uprooted wraiths, who in life never made their stamp. I am thrown headlong into the hawthorn of the valley, and emerging scathed and lashed at by shrubs, I peer into the sky. Dark slender v's seek out the rank carrion of memory; come too late to the slaughter, poor birds, for already my bitches and curs pick their teeth on the hillside. In the center of the gorge, far from its aurora, there is a kingdom: a sallow, retentive king strokes his underthighs with lamb's oil, in a palace like a lizard head. At precisely 5:24 p.m. every day, the left eye of the lizard closes to a slit, and the right one opens wide. At precisely 5:24 a.m. the reverse happens. All the houses in town must adhere to this schedule. They must also throw their lilies out, vase and all, from their third-story windows to the cobbled street. This is done at precisely 5:25 p.m., through the right eye of their domicile. The barefooted poets sweep up the flowers and the glass. In the market-place, manticore zookeepers torment the pink nipples of perfect little homunculi, much to the amusement of the crowd, and so it is said of the goddess. The goddess of the hearth changes each new day, and the villagers waste their mornings taking down old apotropaics and installing new ones. A small rebel faction does not submit to this protean faith, but instead plaster the glen with love-notes, subject to the whim of the storm. A little orphan writes in crayon on my fountain. I have never caught her, but if I do, I will lead her back to the orphanage where her bones will make good porridge. But first, I must kiss the ivory fang that hangs above the gate, said to include the edicts of the Lord.
My fountain is the only place I feel at one, because there I peer my beautiful face.