The Torturer's Therapist
Samantha Berstler

in 1949 the NKVD arrested, tortured, and starved to death
the Catholic priest Roman Lysko; it was rumored
that he went insane during his ordeal.

he says that your problem is that
you keep seeing him with a ring
of steel light around his forehead,

although yesterday you told him
that you thought the sky above you
was a burning hand,

and that at work you had to cling
to your desk like driftwood
as the floor heaved up
into a ruined stomach.

the boy had marsh water eyes,
cast down when he would
bend to gather the gnarls
of his hair like lost wheat

or bundle a medusa of chains
in his arms and sit in the small room,
head an adagio, dead as coral --

it was a lord who made him whole, you say,
who smeared the map of ash on his body,

who struck him into a mark for a lost question
and swallowed his dreams, mouth upon mouth

in a eucharist of blood like brine and cell's dust.