IF I WROTE THIS IN THE BLACK FOREST, WOULD YOU READ IT?

by Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick

First thing’s first. I want your body. I imagine 
a door. You are in the room making jokes 
about how absurd you look in a plain t-shirt.

We haven’t seen each other in over a decade. 
I want the Danube to part and reveal our bones,

delicate curves of mollusks. I want the Black Forest 
over us, canopy of dark where we lose the voice 
our mothers gave to us. Every wound unfurled, wet

foxes out of our throats, tenderly at first then full run
toward the door. I move. You’re ever moving away

from me. You’re not one for chances. You
stay right where you are. The soldiers prayed, 
too, for this transport to happen. A man

lifts his body over the creek one last time 
to walk toward the desert mule that carried him

toward a lover that died two years prior.
His journey was spent with her & she was with him 
eating olives he picked for her. She laughed at his jokes,

his hands steered the mule continually west. 
His heart would give out later that year

before the onset of winter. He knew it before 
he knew it, remembered his brother falling off the roof

while making patches for their father. The impact 
broke his neck. He couldn’t see what his brother could

see. We tell ourselves stories to keep sane. I know 
God stalks me. I want the village of Gengenbach 
to gather for a banquet. I want the unearthed bodies

of our anger to ask forgiveness from everyone 
we’ve married, then set you, unhinged, under me.

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