Home Poetry Covenant of Wonder. Pt. 2

Covenant of Wonder. Pt. 2

Each time the girl would ask me to buy the pen I felt more sorry for myself. You have to understand that her pupils and her iris were one big black pool and light couldn’t escape them. I wanted to scream. I wasn’t in Delhi anymore, I was in the little girl’s belly and I don’t know how I got in there because she was so skinny.

“Please take the pen,” she said and I was small, tracing the wood grain of my dinner table with my father’s hand on my shoulder.

“Son,” a giant of a man. “Eat your food so you can be big and strong and fight the people who will call you Christ-Killer.”

But no one called me Christ-Killer. I grew up and I went to a school where they liked Martin Luther.

“Luther would have called you a Christ-Killer. The students there will call you a Christ-Killer. Or they might not say it but they’ll think it.”

But no one called me a Christ-Killer. Instead a Synagogue was shot up far away and no matter how much of my father’s food I ate I couldn’t fight the people who called us Christ-Killers.

I looked up from the bottom of the little girl’s belly. She added another pen between her thumb and
forefinger.

“Two pens.”

I was lying in bed next to my
mother and she told me about her father whose mind had been played with by poverty in San Juan and the war in Korea. One day he came home and picked up a knife and wanted to stab my grandmother. But my mother picked up the telephone and said she would call the police. My grandfather was so baffled that he put down the knife and hung up the telephone and told my mother to never again do such a thing. That was the last time my mother saw him hurt my grandmother.

Despite my grandfather’s violence, my grandmother would never leave him, and the first time my mother went to college she dropped out because she was so worried about what my grandfather would do with her away.

A third pen joined and I moved into the little girl’s intestines.

“Three pens.”

Your tragedies are your own, so who am I to tell them to you. Just know that I was listening.

“Four pens.”

I slid down her intestines and I was in complete darkness.

“I don’t have a sad story to tell you,” I said to the girl. “Let me out of here.”

“Please sir, please take the pen.”

irwin2@stolaf.edu