Ablution by Travis Tate

I started washing my hands more often,
ablution near breakfast, slow tea. & funny,
there are no red-winged birds greeting
my unbrushed teeth. I’m always looking for signs
in the cosmic. I have to learn to love the bridge
of uncertainty, its wobble & crude craftsmanship.
I turn my face up to look in the mirror. There,
a crooked-faced bird. In my eyes. Latched to my face.

I have learned that often I do not say aloud the things
I want in fear of doing it wrong. My therapist, who is
also gay, who also sweats a lot, gave me papers with
things to say to myself when those rapid thoughts
crotch down under my tongue. Is therapy a kind of
ablution? When I’m done in the mirror, there is
no magic.

I’m desperate to fix this body. Stop watching
it squirm in the mirror. I could throw away
all the clothes & shoes underneath the bed.
Start painting my nails, wearing flowery
long shirts that remind me of my mother.

My mother say the devil is working against us.

Everyone is so afraid of the devil. I let him into
my mouth, into the bare back. Let the devil
into my dreams, floating mast of horns.
This body is grateful for a small while, grateful
for the cliffs ahead on the long ride home.

When I look out the window,
a fawn, grazing close to the grass,
its wet nose steaming.

The cruel winter is just a season.

I think I can make it this day.




Travis Tate is a queer black playwright, poet and performer from Austin, Texas. Their poetry has appeared in Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Underblong, and Mr. Ma’am, among other publications.



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