Between Cities

Blessed are those who wash their robes,

Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates. Outside are dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters.... - Revelation 22:14-15

A voice whispered in my dream:
Either you love or you're happy,
but never both.

I don't know how to live
without the dogs,
without faces writhing
in the bone-spurred night, bituminous
duels of prophets
and scoundrels, flayed
condoms in gutters,

without the infinite idols
to which we bow
in our desperation, shadow-dancing gods
that every day destroy
the city I cannot
live without.

I want to roll in ashes,
weep under bridges urinous,
sleep in the open guitar case
of the subway soloist, kiss
three-legged dogs and raving sorcerers.

Birds beyond the gates
terrify me: not one
bears a broken wing, not even
one defecates like those I know
nested in syringed
hovels, perched
on wires connecting
the city they divided.

At the gate, between blessings,
I discard my robe:
I have chosen love,
and everything that comes with it.

Ananda Robinson is a doctoral student at Harvard Divinity School. She lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.

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Sojourners Magazine July 2004
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