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Post-Leper (Leviticus 14)
Ivy Grimes(bio)

Once you’ve lost your nose,
the sickness finally ends. 

The sick camp is full of holy trees,
trunks with triple-heads
of cedar, cypress, olive.
The good city is figs and lips,
where your wife held her heart for ten years
before succumbing to a whole man. 

Oh, the comeback isn’t rapturous at first
but merely clinical, a recipe for cleanliness:
red thread, hyssop, cedar wood, innocent birds.  

The priest leads you to the wilderness between
the sick and well, and your whole heart rolls
into the body of one bird. 

The priest can carry two birds in his cloak
without worrying which to crack
over a pot on your behalf.

He ties the living bird to the herbs and wood,
submerges him in the other bird’s blood
and shakes the creature at you seven times. 

You’ve bathed in the merciful world.
The priest sets the red bird free
in a clear field. You are like the field,
or like the thread that bound the bird.

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