Tear | Jurek D. | CC BY NC ND

Forty years ago, I wrote I would sooner disgust you than ask for your compassion. My tears are barley water. I give you my tears to wash your feet. My tears are lace on my father’s face. My tears are old rags that do not fit me. My tears are spit on my face, I know spit is sexual. My tears mean no more to me than my grocery bill. My tears are produce I stand in line for. Crying makes me a child, female, shows I am a man speechless about love. I would sooner hold a porcupine than defend tears. My dogs may pull it to pieces, get a mouthful of quills . . . it’s too lonely. I can’t take care of it. I begin to feel the wish to kill—the thing is dangerous. I don’t know what it eats. (A porcupine is the other animal that cries with tears.) I cover my eyes with my hands. I have betrayed the impossible, my porcupine—the thing’s alive, smells of urine. I look for gills, see ears, I feel the weight of thorns and flesh, Christ’s crown. I went into the woods that know me. The trees remembered my mother. Wildflowers taught me reality, like them, is just what is. The leaves set an example of representative democracy. The wind taught me chants and common prayer. The sunflower taught responsiveness, the dew punctuality. Oh my teachers, where did I ever learn my vices? Walking with you in the woods I have learnt lust. Your lips taught me to be lazy. Your eyes taught me greed. Your touch to lie. You have burned my woods . . . cut down trees, left me only with a snake, the penalty for all those who search for paradise . . .

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