I feel my failure intensely
as if it were a vital organ
the gods grew from the side of my head.
You can't cover it with a hat and I no longer
can sleep on that side it's so tender.
I wasn't quite faithful enough
to carry this sort of weight up the mountain.
When I took my vows at nineteen
I had no idea that gods were so merciless.
Fear makes for good servants
and bravery is fraudulent. When I awoke
I wasn't awake enough.

Jim Harrison, "Vows" from Dead Man’s Float. Copyright © 2016 by Jim Harrison. Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org.
Source: Dead Man's Float (Copper Canyon Press, 2016)
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