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© 2023 by Britt A Willis.

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ME WITH MYSELF

 

My footsteps echoed behind
me crunching the fiery leaves as
I crunched them and I felt
my own presence walking
behind me arms clutched
tightly against the cold,
absentmindedly staring
at the back of my head
wondering what I thought as I
wondered what I thought.

THIS IS THE FATE

 

The day you were born the cynics lifted their eyes 
to the heavens and believed in everything. Then they 
forgot. Immediately. There is no profit in faith and the 
fate of humanity is to create and destroy its own miracles.

I cut myself shaving and saw an imprint of your face 
in the trickling stream. No one believed. Not the atheists,
not the priests. People can’t live in other people and
this is the fate of love: if you stay in it, you die of it.

Between the two closest people there are galaxies
and my universe keeps expanding so we may never
fully touch. Arms sore from the effort, we reach
through the cosmic dust and our gravitational tug says

this is the fate 
this is the fate 
this is the fate 


This is the fate of all stars. 
I will collapse on myself
to pull you into me.

THIS IS HOW I AM

 

This is how I am:

a child, I climbed the tree by my mother’s car.

From the soil the tree split into two
sturdy trunks, sectioning further into

 

low-hanging branches. I outlasted puberty
there between the ground and the sky.

I am 28 and the tree is gone now.

 

When my mother was a child she fell

out of a tree and broke her arm twice.

Her mother said the doctor would cut it off

the next time.

 

This is how I am:

I hold scissors to my hair and stare baldly at the mirror,
waiting for the blades to close,
to make the decision for me.

 

But the impermanent seems perpetually
non-negotiable, as if splitting

a mountain might be easier --

 

still I’ve always been one for gestures.
A daydream: my body phases and
Me the Mist seeps imperceptibly through
the apartment.

 

This is how I am:

I am incapable of writing and incapable of not writing.

I am unqualified, undisciplined, and

obsessed. I am jealous of the large book

 

of genealogy at my mother-in-law’s house;
I previously thought no one knew their aunts
and uncles, their great-grandparents’ names.

 

I begin to map a genealogy. It is eager and crude.

My parents, their parents, their parents wouldn’t
recognize these ancestors of mine. This is how I am.

WE WATCHED RELIEF

 

We watched relief shudder through
the court-room, an earthquake toppling
fears and yet and yet and yet and

We left our white dresses hanging
from chain link fences, turned our bobby
pins into lock picks and let our hair

down or cut the locks short or shaved 
everything off. We felt scripture tattooed
on the underside of our skin but

 

nothing felt sacred anymore. We
wandered in and out of our kitchens and
cities and relationships and minds.

We no longer greet the neighbors.