ISSUE 4 · SPRING 2010
8.03 [folded like a crane]
There are times when what had been real music swells. We photograph the seaport, afraid to wake. Fanned across a cherry wood table, those images, their inevitable encroachment, is living, no matter how the tankers toggle in.
We are nowhere, hailing. Stone architecture braced against a plate of saw dust. Two hands, thumbs tucked away. A scaffold mewing with strays. Houses near the border have been subject to raids. She combs torpex into her hair in case they come for her. Sunlight flashes between the moths.
Ashes weighed, wet in a low wattage. We guess their diameters from charred material transferred from crucibles. This motion defrays its own expense against quarts of milk. Forget the radon. Marrow is the simplest kind of nightmare. It’s the splint, which demands interpretation. Wait for me, please. Folded like a crane.
How long has it been since you unlaced your shoes and emptied the pebbles? Is your coffee sweet enough? Have you found him? I hear he’s been listening to radio static, huffing gasoline when he finds it. I remember when we worked the refinery. There were birthmarks on his washcloth. That cough, our common index. You never looked in the mirror then. None of us did. But I think he misses it, the refinery, misses those days away from the sun. Tomorrow we will stop searching, look at things through trees again or gates, through ropes, flimsy curtains. I know where they keep the blindfolds. Anything’s better than walking backward through someone else’s life. A bus smokes past, and from it, a little crowded prayer crescendos: Hush now, baby. Soon done.
Someone once told me, there are only two kinds of stories: a man goes on a trip or a stranger comes to town. We are the remainder. Counting the numbers of steps bottled in bodies. I wonder how many that woman has left? She ladles honey with her fingers, the three longest, knuckle-deep, lashed tight together; braces the jar against her chin. Chicken wire hatches every window. I thought I saw him yesterday, eating himself bald near a sluice, but all I could think to say was steam and his ship was already too far.
Justin Petropoulos lives in Brooklyn, New York, where he works in nonprofit communications. His poems have appeared in Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Gulf Coast, MiPOesias, and Suss: Another Literary Journal. In 2009, his manuscript, Dead Letter Office, was a finalist for the Sawtooth Poetry Prize from Ahsahta Press. Justin has poems forthcoming in Columbia Poetry Review, Portland Review, Crab Creek Review, and American Letters & Commentary.