Race and Religion in Creative Consciousness

I hid my true love’s face in a castle on a rock
its bailey was blunt and chapped and red
like a sunburn, mountain grass licking its base

I built an arch for each memory of her
shaped like two cupped hands
outlined in geometry but hollow
asking us in

it wasn’t until I built the last room
that I realized I’d neglected to depict her

I wanted to
her image was every thought I had
but none of them showed her face
I couldn’t remember
I didn’t know why

years later a cleric wandered through
after I’d been lost there for years
tiling the walls with rose-dials
ivy lattices
every color and shape but hers
and he complimented me on my work, actually
apparently there’s a rule about never depicting any human or animal
which I’d followed, instinctively, because
I don’t know
probably we talked about it in social studies once in fifth grade

it’s always like this for me though
when she’s this close but I’m not hers
when my mind’s eye fixes on her face
it’s blurred, it’s nothing
I can’t remember
but I want it
want her
whatever she is

I have no faith to speak of
not in the god of the book
invisible in every mosque

could be it’s gone
to you instead

let us pray

Winter 2014. For Elizabeth, from the prompt “Moorish architecture.” It’s about that thing where you have a crush on someone but can’t remember their facial features.