Joyce Ellen Davis
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What I Should Have Done

I should have cut a hole in the ceiling
to let my prayers out, words
like smoke from incense pots,
unable to rise above that bloody altar.
Look: here is where you should have slept,
your ear only an inch above my heart.
See: this field of stars above the watchtower
that we might have counted, bye and bye.
Now the sky is full of dark matter,
and though I were rich as Herod,
the baby-killer of Bethlehem
(who was richer than Caesar), I can
not get you back, even though
I would rub salt upon your infant body
and powder you with mustard seeds,
and wrap you up with swaddling bands
embroidered with your genealogies.
Here is the singing bird I’d give you,
the pony, here the toy soldiers,
their cannons in flames.
Here angels play, out of sight
lest they terrify us, though we lie
prostrate, trembling on the ground,
we eaters of entrails, we breakers of bones.
The first to bring an offering
and the first to be offered,
like a burning ram, I continue
to follow your lead
like Nahshon followed Moses, loving him
too much, walking out before him into the sea,
walking out until the water was
all the way up to his nose
before the sea finally parted.

joyce

Joyce Ellen Davis is from Salt Lake City, Utah. She was born and raised in the heart of the Mojave Desert in California.  She traveled for two years as an actress with the Bishop’s Company, American Repertory Theater before settling down to college life and graduating from the University of Utah. She is the mother of five and grandmother of eight outstanding  people. Her first novel, Chrysalis, won a $5,000 publication award from the Utah Arts Council and was nominated for the American Book Award. Her second novel, Life Mask, was published in 2014. Her poetry books include Pepek the Assassin and A Book of Fours. More of her published work is available through Lulu.com