Perihelion: An Online Journal of Poetry and Mayhem
The Phoenix Issue, No. 16, Winter 2008
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H.L. HIX

Zacchaeus the Teacher, Shamed

This child speaks from some other world.
I beg you to take him away.

He knows letters as we cannot.
His gaze is too severe to bear.
Please, my brother, take him away.

He knows letters we do not know,
and how to spell out worlds with them.
I cannot understand his speech.

Who knows what belly bore this boy
who was born before earth was born,
whose words neither begin nor end.
I understood speech, until his.

I have been deceiving myself,
thinking I could be a teacher.
Take the boy away, my brother.
How could I even meet his eye?
Whatever he is — angel, god —
I do not know what I should say.

Before our earth was born, he was.
He knows how letters spell our world.
I beg you, take the boy away
before I burn in his strict gaze.

I know not what belly bore him.
It is not mine to say his name.
What should I call him? angel? god?
How should I look him in the face?

I have fooled myself until now.
The child speaks of another world
more our world than our world itself.
I dare not look him in the face.
What begins, begins in his words.

Which of us understands his speech?
Who has a gaze severe enough?
Who knows our world the way he knows?

My fear begs you take him away.
I understand this from his words:
I have fooled myself until now.