Pity

Sarah Gajkowski-Hill

and we were supposed to recognize this dank silhouette:
He--mottled, knotted, screaming
shrugged into a lice and tick-eaten rag,
wrapped tightly in her unwashed hair?

light emanated from his bare footsteps
his progress spreading a dim glow miles around,
energy prompting boats he stood on to push themselves
into the middle of lakes 

should I have picked a different sacrament?
no--the outstretched arms are familiar enough
I’ve had that bite, the tormentor’s lean, the vein-loosening
shovel-dig into the hand, the saliva and spit.

it’s not that I want my distance
or to only kiss your cheek
but for pity,
for pity,
do i really need dangle 
from the same hangman’s tree
to know your love,
to stamp it on my brilliant new skin?