Over the next few weeks, I am going to post the poems from Limp Wrist that have been nominated for the Pushcart.
Here is the first I will share:
ODE TO MY PENTECOSTAL RIGHT ARM
The live wire writhed: a Pentecostal copperhead
sinking fangs into my ulnar nerve—dendrites convulsed
in the Spirit and passed out, synapses crashed
like stalactites loosened from God’s cavernous mouth,
and for the first genuine time I spoke in another tongue.
Can I get an amen? Can I get a man who doesn’t mind
my arm throwing spaghetti and calling for revival?
My right arm contracts and gives birth to a new baby Jesus
once each minute, and He’s got a holy set of lungs screaming.
This arm awakens and dances at night when He gathers
his loincloth for a jig. God is boogie-woogie electric,
and my arm knows it, knows there’s a pulsing, painful
purgatory, has met eternity and returned tap-dancing.
O, right arm, won’t you tell me what you know?
My body’s on fire, my body’s one big coal bed
for God’s enormous iron poker, but I can’t see
past all the smoke. My stubborn mouth could never swallow
the embers of God’s language. My pagan feet fire-walk,
my left arm makes the sign of the cross,
and the backs of my knees refuse to believe in anything
so my body becomes a war zone. Somewhere God
discos through the carnage, and all I can do is follow
when my right arm stiffens into a divining rod
and bows down.
~ Jessica Hand