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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