The Monk

Kate Wyer


The land is red, but by the pines it is white. By the pines it is sand, and there the well is dug. Cold cleaves to the mouth, in the back teeth, after a drink from the well, red from the slim, stiff leaves of the pines. It will dye your teeth, says the monk. It tastes like tea and sap. I will miss it.

"Why not take the goat?" asks the man who bought this land where the monk ate stew and grew beets, where the goat ate burs.

"He was the other's, the one who left first. The goat likes roses, plants with thorns. The goat likes the bell on his throat."

"Sun hits the room where you sleep," says monk. 

"I have drapes," says man, "I have plans."

The monk wants a room with no light. He does not want to see his shape on the wall when he wakes. The curved line of his head, or hard square of waist, hip. Move, he says to the shape, to the mind in the shape. To the breath. Bring me what the goat sees and cud in my jaw.

He turns from the wall. To miss is a hole in the lung. Plug with a thumb, live. Or let the slow leak take its alms.

Gnats search the wet of eyes. Lashes trap them, blink to push them out. The well still.

What did that monk know?