The Bible of the Unlucky Soldier


The sea blots Genesis, sea salt ruins
to blood the red words of Jesus who plodded–
remember, Kelly?–across the waves. Kelly's
Bible, one of his brother's hand-me-downs,
seesaws tumbling above his head, prodded
by determined currents. Kelly descends until he's
at the bottom of the world, where suns
don't dart their light to, where a man unmans.

The book of holy code is a better swimmer,
sidling from wave to wave like a jellyfish,
disgorging its text as June disgorges summer
into an ocean of time, the Word's sweet Flesh
transforming once again in heavy seas,
becoming a sea-thing strange beyond surmise.


Fred Chappell, Spring Garden: New and Selected Poems, Louisiana State University Press, 1995.