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After the War

ISSUE:  Summer 1984

I hang a thin sweater on my shoulders
and walk out on the porch. You don’t hear me. I watch
your cigarette burn along the railing, the billow
of your pants above your hips. Your shirt is off
and when you turn it is like a wrung cloth,
then a blowfish, then a bag of twigs.
You don’t like surprises. You pretend not to be surprised.

The stockings float out on the air like bunting
and although I don’t wear stockings
I realize they are difficult, these war years
to get; silk and seam down the back.
I separate the thick ring at the top, dark lip.
Your eyes settle on my skin in the summer humidity,
everything condensing, and I know from now on
I will ooh for the two of us/something this beautiful
can’t afford to go unobserved.
You worry over the small bruise on my thigh where the
   table hit.
I step in with caution. The seams wear odd along the backs
of my legs, the mark of the mold, the line
where leg begins, where you could reach your fingers
separate the skin from the redder places.

There were so many in 1949 of us/we could go on
swallowing each other forever. Licking off the
need like the wet sack from a kitten. Performing the act
for one another the way they did for us,
against an invisible hunger.
You make me promise. I make you promise.
Things like this shouldn’t happen should they/won’t
happen again. We build houses, buy cars against their
I don’t have a baby.

Not because we haven’t wanted, because there is no room
with so much of our parents in us.


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