The Temptation of St. Anthony

by Zoë Gabriel

I, too, crave solitude,
try to level this desert,
evade the wannabes
and tourists.
Still they knock
and holler, their claws
and wings beating
against these fragile walls,
a gale of sand. 
Unplug the phone,
the machine picks up.
Scalding water for tea
drops on my thigh,
my backlit reflection
in the kitchen window
peers in persistently.
I don't care, I don't
want to know even if
the message is from you. 
I have to keep silent,
keep still,
keep the balance,
and lick my bruised,
burned, sly fingers. 
Single-minded as prayer,
I have to coax courage
out of this dry soil,
the hard-packed earth
of my flesh.
How else will a garden
ever bloom in my
withering hand, under
the crushing weight 
of my breastbone?

Zoë Gabriel's poems have appeared in Illumen, Oysters & Chocolate, Word Riot, The Commonline Project, Thieves Jargon, GlassFire Magazine, Grasslimb, Centrifugal Eye, Poetry Midwest, Southern Ocean Review, Salt River Review, Locust Magazine, Unlikely Stories, AntiMuse and Cadenza; she has work forthcoming in Tales of the Unanticipated, Tales of the Talisman, Weird Tales and Oysters & Chocolate. Zoë dyes her hair, but is naturally tall. She loves books, languages, spicy food and colorful socks. She is from Europe and lives in Maryland.

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