January 11, 2012

Sativa January


Bone isn’t hard to cut through if you go fast. Don’t be afraid.
She had two kids, and it was an accident.
We made sure we covered ourselves, worked
so her body couldn’t be discovered.
But try having a loss on your watch.
Suddenly you’re swaddling a body in blankets,
dancing with it, holding it close.
Have you ever touched someone gone? A squirrel? A dog?
Only material, a sack of water your goldfish swam in.
Dig your nails in.
Skin still bleeds, but do you know for how long?

I know what happens to blood after days. A person can smell sweet.

You don’t know who I am, these are just words, I could tell you
without telling.
We burned her hands. Fingerprints can’t be read in fire.
These letters on this page don’t have
identities either. Nice how print is anonymous.
We hid the rest of her under the house. You have to put a person
where you wouldn’t expect to come across her.
A vortex sucked the cops toward us.
She was near, she was near. They used
aluminum divining rods to locate her fillings.
I didn’t speak, drive up, or go inside when those
blue cars shoved around the corner.
Every day I woke with burning, noisy thumps in my throat.
Watched for them to drag her out.
Find me. Find her.

Typing reduces tension, and you have no idea who I am.
Ffffft, fffft, Fffft, let the air out.
This is the only place I can be invisible and be found.
Release the pressure and I last without anyone knowing,
without a finger aiming, “Here!”
I can breathe, re-organize, dig a deeper hole inside.
Quiet the groaning.

Funny how in a month
all pain in my engine eased.
The need for doughnuts eased.
A fondness for dawn dissolved.
As good as invasive weeds.
Shut your eyes and I won’t survive.

Through high windows in this room
I watch a live oak bloom,
then shake free of leaves.
On my last day I chip away at a brick with the tip of my forefinger.
They wheel me through a hallway of lime-grey fluorescents,
and infuse me with one last juice, a syringe of ammonia and heat.
My eyes flutter back.

Last night, I wrote this letter.
Words formed a person there in your head. But once
you’ve read them, I’ve already left.
And you look for the man in a sentence.

from Rattle #35, Summer 2011


Sativa January: “This poem was inspired by my time working for an international war crimes tribunal.”

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