“What It Takes” by Elizabeth Rees

Elizabeth Rees


I said I do to keep them from elbowing him out.
No room for ones like him, they would have said
if their forms had mouths. No free meal tickets here.
I said in sickness and in health because I wanted to
share my hoard of stars with someone who would
savor his freedom like a sweet. My slender shadow,
already old at twenty-four, followed me
like the moon. He thought he only wanted an address,
a place to earn greenbacks to send his dying sister,
to his parents waiting for their luck to change.
He didn’t know that he would fall in love with me.
I knew the minute I saw those villages in his eyes
that he had taken a terrible journey, by rickshaw
and foot, risking his life. In the shade of a high-rise,
when the summer sun had nearly poured its lemonade,
I put on my good luck charm and gave
my outlander, my treasure-trove, my hand.

from Rattle #24, Winter 2004

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