With one hand I bend him
to my chest:
muscle, bone, blood, breath.
With the other,
I cradle and massage his feet--
two tense mice
whose tiny bones and pads of flesh
relax as they are caressed.
Soon my son’s crying stops,
becomes the clock-like breath of rest.
It is when he is soothed,
and his feet are as supple as sleep
that I think of the Spaniards
rubbing the pads and heels with oil,
then bringing the fire.
I think of the Greeks
beating and beating and beating
the soles of their prisoners’ feet
with rough slats of wood.
I think of the future
that holds us to his chest.
And I think of Goya’s wild-eyed Saturn
holding the nude and headless torso
of his son--
the son he has murdered,
the son he is eating.
First published in The Progressive, February, 1998