The Atheist Wore Goat Silk

By Anna Journey

I’ve wanted to visit the genetically modified goat
spliced with silkworm DNA
spinning white threads from its pink udders
like a piebald spider. I’ve wondered how much
for a whole goat silk dress? Always I save
the spiders that shimmy near my eyes
but never the bristled silverfish
which drop to the boatwood dinner table
from the skylight. Come Indian Summer
the fuchsia bougainvillea unpurses
its dry lips, licks the sweat
from my neck. My mother tells her childhood
best friend—who’s dying from liver
cancer in Jackson, who consults
a Pentecostal woman who speaks
in tongues—that her two daughters
are atheists. Meaning my little sister and me.
Somewhere there’s a goat that squirts
a rare silk so bizarre maybe
no one would actually wear it. That webbed dress
sticking to my chest, the grandfather
clock, all over the bedroom walls like a past
that drags everything with it. The thread
leading back to an animal I badly
need to believe in. Its impossible milk
steams in the twilight. There’s a dress
that rises from its udders with a misted
sleeve I can almost see.

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