Rub For Luck

There is a lion at the gates. Fierce of eye and
Sharp of tooth though he be, he is burnished
To glory by hands on his shoulders, his mane, his
Knee. A hundred outstretched hands, a thousand
Palms a day, on lion-hair spikes and hammered
Nails, once meant to impale all desire for entry
Through the doors to these forbidden
Cities of hope, gleam with the yearnings
Of millions of fingers. A kind of earning
Of lustre lost in the service of kings. Things
Of iron can endure, it seems, till the hidden
Glories of tempered gold burnish each touch
Each pilgrim’s and seeker’s hand saying ‘thus much
Do I render unto Ceaser that which
Can never be his: an empire of stubborn dreams
The sum total of which is this, this forbidding nail
Rubbed gently aglow. Who is savior? Who redeems?’
Look upon these hands, commoner and king
Holier than the celestial harmonies of the house of Ming.

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