Lamb of God X: After a Next Beheading by Jed Myers

Agnus Dei, Samuel Barber, 1967
Instrument of the body, breath, larynx—the Rotterdam Symphony Chorus,
2015, lifts me out of this daylight basement, to a place that’s no place,
in a time that will never be, but here I am, riding the voices, weightless
as an angel who can’t exist but is and breathes and weeps for this lightness.

Swells of the body’s breath, the pharynx intention’s channel—sustained
notes rise each on the next like steps toward a heaven that isn’t but stretches
across all space, where souls occupy their impossible absences
by this implausible grace, where death is no distance. Tones descend

and ascend like our bodies, like our breath in this nexus of spirit and dust,
and the material chaos is climbed, toward a crest, a question, a surprise
silence…. And it begins again, the hill-after-hill trek, through the sieges
and famines, past the rivers’ pocked dead, swords in ten thousand chests—

over the breath-blown body of the world, hope hauls our expiring flesh
up crumbling mountain roads into scree, and we are this mute topography
much as we are who claws and starves. We, I, in this dim room under
the kitchen, hear the twin speakers pouring a multiple human voice, the one

boundless body breathing itself loose from its own axons’ sheaths,
and the iron chain, noose, guillotine—yes, my mother’s coo to the child
I was in my fever through the night, my father’s call through the dusk woods
in his fear I was lost, and the cry of any faith’s frightened protector

slicing another head off breath’s body, the exalted general’s command
hurtling our sons into the blood marshes…I hear the whole song of human
sacrifice, the half-conscious, unconscious, blind love of the lamb of Christ,
and as I take in the churning adagio pulse, I want to set free the lamb,

unstake and lift down the man, the cross left to lean on one hand like an x—
let the crescendo, the stillness that follows, and the sad fellow-feeling after
the end that is no end stand, an echo of this one body we can’t name,
can’t slay, can’t claim. Let Agnus Dei wander again in the hills of the land.

Jed Myers is author of Watching the Perseids (Sacramento Poetry Center Book Award), The Marriage of Space and Time (MoonPath Press), and four chapbooks, including Dark’s Channels (Iron Horse Literary Review Chapbook Award) and Love’s Test (winner, Grayson Books Chapbook Contest). Recognitions include Southern Indiana Review’s Editors’ Award, the Prime Number Magazine Award, The Southeast Review’s Gearhart Prize, and The Tishman Review’s Millay Prize. Poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Rattle, Poetry Northwest, The American Journal of Poetry, Southern Poetry Review, The Greensboro Review, and elsewhere. Myers lives in Seattle and is Poetry Editor for Bracken.