The story is kicking up dust
and I want finally to finish telling it. On the last night, we realized neither of us had ever hit or been hit. We sat at a conference table, she spoke of Herakles, the words math and macadamia tossed like salt, and I decided a story is only a story once it gets told. Imagine a tale of boy-flesh and betrayal, transmitted through a fist, a bodily instant. Imagine treating bruised cheekbones like historical documents. The story is that we stood in the kitchen, I hit her, she hit me harder, then we brewed tea in the microwave. How it came to be what it is I can’t be sure. I tell myself the story of that last night, everyone hugging goodbye and wondering what happens now. What comes next. I keep forgetting that although we left, the kitchen didn’t. That according to the evidence, neither of us has hit or been hit.
Myth in which daughters become their own gravestones
We glossed our feet with salt and didn’t let the goats lick it off, of course the lake didn’t stay frozen, of course it cracked and we went under. You let me give golden hands to a sculptor. Don’t act like you didn’t know it was coming. I’m whispering this next part. I miss your elephants, the bones of your ankles. I miss fighter planes. We sit in front of a house fire every day and talk about the bombs, corkscrews, and your hair, but do you even remember what the sky looked like? A hundred years ago. Wait, that’s not right. The rock candy you bought on your birthday? That’s not right either. It’s my fault. I shouldn’t have tried to write it. I write down my dream and I forget it instantly, I touch a wave and it becomes a particle and all to relive a single day, but can you blame me? A day we could see the entire electromagnetic spectrum. A day our eyes shone with a golden light.
In event of moon disaster: The Cruelty of Metaphor
We lost our boys to outer space and so we’ve buried them at sea.
The thing is, you know they’re never gonna find another way to
do it. Next decade or century or however long it takes us to mourn
and move on—the next boy who doesn’t come back is gonna have
his memory thrown into the ocean too, and the one after him, and
after him, and him. And I mean it’s only logical. The only thing
that makes our bellies churn like the thought of deep space is the
thought of deep sea. The dark cold crush, the floating, the wreck-
age, the creatures with many eyes … This is a different kind of loss,
though. A sunken ship is out of sight but we can still feel it like
a bulb of mercury inside. A piece of shrapnel navigating the blood-
stream. Not a grenade-blown limb soaring past enemy lines.
In event of moon disaster: Dear Neil,
How am I supposed to write an elegy when you are not dead to me?
It would be better if you were. It would even be better if you were
missing. But I know exactly where you are. How am I supposed to
let you go when you won’t leave me alone? Every night and there
you are, bleach-white upon my window. The waves reach for you
like hands. The wolves howl your name. The closest thing I’ve got
to a gravestone is the American flag they say you jammed in the
ground as soon as you landed. A whole country is mourning you,
baby, a whole planet is murmuring condolences, can’t you hear?
Lucy Wainger’s poems have appeared/will appear in the Blueshift Journal, Textploit, Black & BLUE, The Adroit Journal, and elsewhere. She has attended summer writing workshops at UVa and the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio, and in the fall she will be a senior at Stuyvesant High School in New York City. Selected by Yasmin Belkhyr.
Image © Daniel Zimmermann via Flickr Creative Commons.