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From the French custom of raising
a wine glass and shouting out
Salut! to everyone’s health,
which, I presume, is where we got
the whole idea, wine is medicinal,
never mind cirrhosis. And not from Jesus
who raised up his cup though contra-osis,
against the abnormal, unnatural
state of things, as some might see it, and
pronounced, “This will save you”—
salvus, salve and coincidentally salubrious,
which sounds remarkably
like salvation that is soused
and from a flask. And, to think of it,
why were the disciples asleep
in the garden; were they dumbfounded
by Jesus who said to them,
“This is my blood,”
in the upper room, and deduced
it must be the sangria?
It must be the sangria, John whispered
to James before exsanguinating the glass—
after swirling the glass to look at its legs,
its stem like stiletto,
its tenuous, singing glass lip, after plunking
a nose into its heady, glass mouth
to encounter the warm
earth, violets and tart cherries. Only then
did he drain the whole thing, “whole”,
as in sol-, solwos, holos.
And salus- being health, being
wholeness, who was he to argue with the whole
glass, whole decanter after decanter full,
as in, did someone say, “Emborrachemonos?”—
a toast often reserved for seedier, Costa Rican
bars, and a blunter way of saying:
Let’s store up all our good health like camels,
travel about from watering hole
to watering hole, knowing
something of the desert, from –osis to –osis,
even in a lush oasis like this, Jesus.
Even here, yes, and here
amongst our respective dunes.


First published in the Fall issue of The Los Angeles Review (2013).

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