The way I always pictured ritual sacrifices


I wondered which would give in first,
the old man carrying his fern or the fern
carried to the street the way I always
pictured ritual sacrifices. Knees bent,
he hunched above the curb long enough
for the patience of gods to wear thin,
taking in the uncertain abyss backing up
the storm drain and flooding the street
inches thick with muck. It could be fake.
Plastic if he’s cheap, silk if he bought it
to make an impression. Or maybe it’s real,
fraught with infections, soil steeped
with the kinds of parasites that everyone
knows about but doesn’t entirely know
how to get rid of. So you cut your losses,
rid your home of what you hope attracts
the things you can’t yet handle. When at
last he let go, the splash was small, and
the relief: insignificant almost, the sort
of thud you feel in your bones
more than you ever see or hear.