In the 12th century, 100 Cathar prisoners had their noses cropped, their lips cut off, their eyes gauged out—then to be led by the one man left with one eye, home to Lastours, a file of the blind, “a visible demonstration of the ineffable mercy of God’s Christian Army.”
—quotation from Cathar Castles of the Languedoc
The redoubts the Cathars built issued from rock
as if they were offspring of rock, or an idea
rock had, and built.
They dragged everything they needed
up that rock including the rock
to build with; everything had to
be hauled up.
If an enemy came close
they poured hot oil down.
Oil they had hauled up.
Wood they had hauled up to heat the oil.
It worked, awhile. I would like to mention how
I hear my mother’s voice rise up when she is not here.
I would like to know how
it is I hear it
but from the next room.
The real next room.
Off to one side lies my mother’s death
but it is not far off,
over my shoulder, casting
a beady eye on my business. You are losing
your mind I think, leaving unhappily.
We have arrived at what we dread: the
diminution of loved ones, livid
and unmistakable lapses, quick
angers that lap at, lick at
that is the one certain shore.
I didn’t share my margins with her so she died. I didn’t share my mangoes with her.
I purchased eight green mangoes to give her five and I didn’t
see her before every one had ripened
so I ate them so she
died, not right then, later.
That’s how it ends.
Without sweet fruit.
What happens is you fall out of sense out of order out of time.
It’s a parade.
Took one eye opened
among the 200, one hand cupped over
a rounded shoulder, one after
another, all the way down.
at the pus-eyed, the hollow-nosed.
What did you see, lucky man
who got to guide
all of them home with the one
good eye? Like
gargoyles lined up behind him.
(Took their senses.) Saw them
home (alive! alive!)
omen to their loved ones.
If it’s a parade be everyone, any one, and you are
from the next room
I hear you are not
interested in me you say you are
not as interested in me as that other