Stephanie Lee Jackson
Dane Cervine

The Golden Germ

Sitting in the small window cupola, 
I watch the lush red bougainvillea simmer 
against the gray fog blanket behind, spread 
my Sunday morning reading amid green and burgundy pillows: 
a letter from prison, translations of the Vedas & Upanishads
a copy of Therapist magazine. The phone rings, 
a mentor poet offering praise for my meager words, 
and suddenly I feel as though God knows I exist, that she’s 
keeping an eye out. My prison pen-pal has sent drawings 
for basic yoga postures he uses to instruct fellow inmates, 
confesses loneliness since being moved to a new facility—
no more classes or groups in the yard, just solitary practice 
in his cell. He’s in for a lifetime, and I write back 
to make sure he is not forgotten, that someone 
is keeping an eye on him. In the The Unknown God

the Vedas say Desire entered the One in the beginning.
As the Golden Germ he arose … May he not injure us …

And I think it is a good prayer, therapeutic, 
this working out of desire’s meaning, how 
to survive it. Each in our own cell—
bars of marrow bone, stubborn walls of skin—
the ghost in the body that wanders beyond,
becomes the fog, the bougainvillea, the prisoner 
who for a moment, belly to the ground, arches
his back concave like a boat open to the heavens,
floats on the cement floor as on a vast sea,
lingering in the silence, in the early morning hour,
content. Perhaps it is all one 

long peeling away, layer upon layer
to the sweet, ravenous germ nosing blindly
within every breath—extravagant deity 
moving golden inside every sin,
every wounded want.