For Kasturba Gandhi and Coretta Scott King:
Lessons of Loving a Prophet
1. You know how this ends, there’s nothing you can do to change it—so make peace with it now:
Ready your hands for the callus, shred the cloth for bandages, prepare the rosaries.
2. When you meet him outside the grocery, along the board walk, beneath the overpass…you will not know what he is. He will be neither too charming nor too handsome, not thunder, not polish.
3. The day you fall in love his mouth will spill your name. He will repeat, and repeat. He will not touch you. He will watch your hips, study whatever ample you have—will ask to watch you dance. When you turn to leave, he will use your name like a choke chain.
4. He will call you, “Miracle.” Your face will unravel. This is his magic. When he begs you promise, say “Yes.”
5. When he offers his lips…take them. Take his arms, his throat, take his toes, when he offers gorge. Swallow everything whole. Gag. Vomit. Swallow more. Do not hesitate. No time for polite or coy. Take.
6. When the minions call you whore. Nod.
7. He will tell you of the others. How they went crazy in their sleep awaiting his return. Do not flinch. Do not doubt you thicken finger tips. Stand upright. You promised.
8. When you find him in his room, thrashing the sheets, pressing his palms into the walls, howling, his face a river. Close the door. This is how he makes wine. Leave him in his sorcery.
9. When he explains that he cannot love you, that he will never be yours alone. When he tells how the meek, and the gluttons, the tempted, the proud are his angels. Do not mourn. Smile, feed him, wash his hair.
10. He is a king among thieves. The leeches will hollow his skin. The crows reduce him to bones. His own heart will empty him. Allow for the bleed. Be ready with tourniquet and prayer.
11. In the dry burn of dawn, after the last of the lashes, the thorns, and the spittle, when his limp body is laid at your feet…remember the night he loved you. The ember of his eyes and the way the words came like honey.
12. You were made for this.