When you spat a plum stone into my palm and I cupped it like a delicate thing, its textured dips like how I imagine the traces on the Big Light above, you told me I was treachery. The leaves bristled and the golden buds of His flowers dipped their heads, nuzzling the earth at the coarse sweetness of your voice. I remember the tremble in my jaw, the sticky red juice dribbling down your arm making me wince like you cracked a rib. My shadow teetered three steps up a tree. Until then, our afternoons had been enlightened by thumbs to cheeks, woven baskets, and splintered fingers so sharp they could slice right down into my stomach. I repeated the word—treachery—and it tasted as if the soil had risen and kissed me. I swallowed the gravelly sounds like a stubborn piece of lamb. Clearing my throat, the meekness was penetrable, and I wanted to punch it—wring its scanty neck and squeeze. It feels dirty, I said next, and you took another bite.
It was always going to be Thursday. The dinner cloth was scratchy, tickling my skin while I waited for our supper under candle sweat and damp cream paint. I was only half listening when you dipped the bread—the oil coating your fingers, slick and soft, the scent of olives bloating. It had been exactly one week since the confession, and I pretend not to startle when your hand still reaches for mine. Now you offer it like a prayer said on Sundays: prepared, gentle, a sort of kindness that was only ever reserved for a child. The bread soaked to take, now in my palm, the drowned, hungry sufferance of us both.
Inclining your head, hair tucked carefully behind your ears, you ask—or declare, something in-between—speaking with enough conviction to swallow my tongue. The rest watch with the same mottled eyes, unblinking, waiting, as if for me to reach over, take the honey knife, and thrust it into the crook of your neck—
My finger twitches before I suppress the muscle to settle. You deserve a smile, I think, one that reaches my eyes and—“Thank you,” I whisper instead. You do not stutter, do not flinch. The wine is shared between us, the same grapes we crushed beneath our feet last spring. Exhaustion in our thighs, lungs too hot, bodies coiled around the wheat—and how I would have licked a shy strip up your sole if you had asked me to. Rolled over, showed my stomach, and nibbled your shins like a mutt from the farm—perhaps then you would have called it devotion.
Now, like a sacrificial little goat, as if you were to lay the scruff of your neck on the altar, you open your arms and allow the air to shift. Let fate seal itself, I suppose, and maybe if you hold your breath, it’ll make the splinters softer. Does it not scare you? Son of Man, you’re a liar if the thought of me doesn’t slip into your stomach like weighted gold. I’ll burn with the rest of you; high pressure hugged to your torso, spilling into your shoes to wrench the rug from under your feet—a quieter testament to the mercy of us all. But how frightening; today I will still kneel, my bruises still faithful, because to worship and to plead feels shamefully similar when both hands are tied. I warn you to keep your eyes closed while I drink up, my lord, tilting the glass from a height. Funny thing, you obey like I’m worthy. My mouth opens like a howl, tasting the sour ache of it all in a gulp. But admit to me forgiveness and I’ll pull the root and run. Take the knife, give me tender, and I’ll spit it out again.