Goofer-Dust

(dirt stolen from an infant’s grave around midnight)

Do not try to take it from my child’s grave, nor
from the grave
of my childhood,
nor from any infant’s grave I guard—voodoo, juju, boo-hoo rites
calling for it or not! This dust, this dirt, will not
be taken at dawn or noon
or at the dusky time,
and if you approach
this sacred place near midnight,
then I will chop,
one by one, your fingers off
with which you do your harm. Goofer-dust: if you want it,
if you need it, then
erect downwind from a baby’s grave
a fine-meshed net
and gather it
one-half grain, a flaky mote, an infinitesimally small fleck
of a flake at a time
and in such a way
it is given to you
by the day, the wind, the world,
it is given to you, thereby
diminishing the need to steal
this dirt displaced by a child
in a child’s grave.

Thomas Lux, “Goofer-Dust” from The Crade Place. Copyright © 2004 by Thomas Lux. Used by the permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Source: The Cradle Place (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004)