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Homecoming: Fourth of July


ISSUE:  Summer 2007

Gas-fumes, starlight, my car on Empty, all the stations
closed. The talk on the radio’s of UFOs, nonbodily
abductions, the consciousness extracted and replaced.

Who could believe such things, even when they’re half-
lost, stranded, parked outside a darkened Texaco at 2 a.m.?
Who could believe death, after everything, is a parking lot

at night? And who could believe I had to perform dialysis
just then? The home-kit, the dialysate, the stent in my abdomen
split like an antenna, one tube to let the fluid in, one tube to drain

the body’s waste, the whole contraption like something da
Vinci might have drawn. I stepped outside, the fluid-
bag placed upon the roof, while the other started filling

at my feet. This is how I would administer my new life:
every six hours, for a year, the fluid extracted and replaced.
And when I had finished, the stent sealed and tucked

beneath a bandage, I held the bag of—was it urine?—in my hand,
and looked up at the universe falling through my face—star-cluster,
neuron, childhood, disease, my parents fighting, slamming doors—

why don’t you just go into the garage and do it then, she screamed—
all of it moving through me and away, spun deep into the galaxy
by now, happening to someone else in some other way,

as I stood there looking back through the windows of my car,
at the soda bottles, candy-wrappers, trash, the empty driver’s seat,
at sunglasses, scattered tapes, the duffel bags, the cigarette packs

empty on the dash. For a moment, I couldn’t step back
into my life. For a moment, I stood in the parking lot,
like something slowly evolving through the mud,

feeling alien, strange. If someone had seen me there,
with that fluid-bag, would I have looked like a man
holding his own stomach in his hand? Would I have looked

like David holding Goliath’s head, strong, almost muscular,
alive? In the far-off chemistries, in the tubes cut and tangled at
my feet, in the dialysate drawing bits of water from my blood,

I felt the past being extracted and replaced. Then I cut the bag,
and watched the beam of poisoned light from inside of me
spreading through the parking lot, the fireworks, the sterilizing night.

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