When I Am Called to Stand

Note: “When I Am Called to Stand” appeared in I Do Not Think that I Could Love a Human Being, published by Gaspereau Press in 2010. To see our Q&A with Johanna Skibsrud in this issue of carte blanche, please go here.

O my heart, do not stand as a witness against me in the tribunal.
Spell 30, The Egyptian Book of the Dead

When I am called to stand
and give account of things,
heart, do not tell the whole story.

Do not stutter, pause, divulge, or
admit that if I could I would remain.

That, in truth, I was not expecting to be called.

That I had thought—having
gone so long now, and so alone—
I could escape this too.

That we could
remain; could
live alone and unexamined
within these walls—this

false body—
and not be called
in order to

betray each other in the end.

Heart, do not stand as witness against me in the tribunal.
Let some of all of this be lost.

Let it be sealed. Let it be cauterized in chasms,
in each of your four chambers. But
do not preserve it there. Let it
rot. Let it

stink and burst in the
retracted annals of the body. Let it
dissolve itself in

liquid and in gas; let it not ask questions that it
cannot answer, but neither let it be

borne aloft by incantation, invocation, or appeal.

O heart, resist. And if you
cannot, let us

make a pact. Let’s seal it. Let us not
answer for this,
or for our
selves. Let us
not stand trial. Let us
slip away now, heart; let’s