Self-Portrait as Missing Person

by Justin Boening

selected by Dara Wier

To Be A God


Starting now, I'll do everything
                                                            as if I were a god.
I'll walk from a dark room
                                                 as a god walks from a dark room,

I'll speak to strangers
                                          as a god speaks to strangers.
When it's time to say something important,

I'll rise from my chair like a god would
and speak in my
                               celestial certitudes.

There will be no more
                                           lap-sitting, no more stories
about when I was a barback or a ferryman

or a farrier. There will be
                                                  fewer hours spent
tuning my piano
                                and patting my hunting dogs,

or remembering
                                my youth. When I need you to hurt

I'll put you to sleep as a god puts you to sleep,

I'll play my discordant harp as a god plays a harp,
and the effects will be the same.

The noise of the bramble
                                                 never leaves me.
I bless the cedar. The months go by. I bless your saw.

When you need
                             me to hurt, I'll dim in the linden leaves,
I'll hide in the fire-scarred hills,
                                                               and the great guards

of my gilded name
                                   will circle around to protect me.
And you'll be there.
                                       And I'll know your name

as a god knows your name,
                                                    as a father knows your name,
but you won't recognize me.

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