by Jennifer Crow

Evil, weakness, a wrongness
to the bone--this is what they say
when they tie back the offending
arm, when they rap
the offending knuckles,
when they pry up fingers
one joint at a time
to leave the soul loose
over the abyss. Forbidden
knowledge on the left-hand path--
the coils of the mind wrap
the unwary and bind the future--
secrets hoarded in the crevices
when the fist is clenched.
Patterns drawn in the lines
of a palm, the lines of a life,
express the mysteries
of the road not taken.
The secret stays, bound
like a rebellious hand
as the twine cuts deep in memory.
Power has its own journey,
going by touch
on darkened roads. Follow
the sacred, the secret profane, the sinistral
to the last strange fork
and choose freedom.

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