1. White Vulture
When we raise our hands now, the air is flush
with vacancies. Shapelessness cuts with jagged edges,
And we are waiting for something to hold,
A sparrow, a squirrel, a yellowing egg; fallen but unhurt.
We have trailed caves with white water,
Pulled ourselves out of its depths and
Stood on top of the world; a coastline.
We have dissolved into clouds, licking the salted air,
falling on our stomachs when the rain came.
Yet there is no sleep tonight. We’re dreaming of
white vultures. Scavengers that the
eye can’t predict, swooping soft, begging
skin, begging flesh, begging bone, begging
death. Dreaming of things we haven’t seen,
but things we simply know, from living it over and over
and over in our heads.
Not once has a ripple formed in the water.
We are running by the lake, a game
Of catch-and-catch, our hands leaping rabbits
Our mouths twin suns, the clouds above
There are no words, but always laughter.
I see you slipping away. I reach for a fistful of your shirt.
Some days we fall, a pile of autumn leaves.
Some days you wither, the barren autumn trees.
None of this is happened, but
think of something long enough
and it may as well have.
Flowers have been haunting my room since I last saw you.
At night I sleep, and nothing
stirs, except their petals.
I should not be able to hear them:
I draw my blankets close.
Yet they split and fall,
soft, so I cannot hear them
except in my heart,
which does not,
for a second,
Yesterday I swear, my heart was a hare.
Sometime in July, I lay confined to my bed.
It was raining outside and the mist wafted in
and my mother was on the phone and as she spoke I
thought about how alive she was, her eyes sparkling
her mouth forming words of a story I had already heard
her fingers lightly pressing the phone against
her hair spread, like a pillowcase to rest my head.
Mid-conversation, she turned and I thought of
all the ways in which she
would be dead.
She smiled and lightly touched my hair.
Edited by Christina Shideler and Joyce Chen.