Broken Backs and Wicker Baskets

One day soon you’re going to break my back.

My ribs will open like an egret’s wings,

my flesh a tangle of ruffled feathers in the breeze

festered by their beating. My heart

a gentle beak sifting through dust

to find the last seeds of grass on a dying world;

like an old woman turning her head round

and round as she circles a tub in the center of the room,

held in orbit by its gravitational

pull, searching for a bar of soap

that whittled to nothing against the knife

of her flesh several-odd billion years ago.

I, having consumed all the trees with a wink

and drank all the waters with a straw

made of your tallest buildings, breathe

in clouds heaving against the bottom

of the stratosphere and smoke them out

again to burn donut-shaped holes

into the ozone. A fever leans

against my neck, framed as it is in a robe

made of your blue sky. My children buried

 in the Earth wait for the burnt caramel

of their backs to be exposed

so they can inhale the heated air

through their pores and pour

it out their fingertips, burrowed deep.

Pumped full of air, the mantle

will expand and balloon out, the remnants

of humanity clinging to the bottom of the wicker basket

as we float through the galaxy on a wind

the gods have birthed as my sister and given no name.

On your last day

I watched you hold her hand,

walk down empty streets torn asunder

like shallow cuts made gaping by a stranger’s

careless fingers. You both tiptoed along those open

fault lines like they were the grooves in God’s fingerprint,

you pretended that the fire lighting the sky

with orange and red was the sun coming closer, in awe

of the simple way you walked in tandem. You imagined

that the press of your hands,

the joining of your invisible souls,

wasn’t the easiest thing in the universe to separate–

memory in this new world more fragile than human skin.

I lifted it from your minds and watched you release

each other of your own volition, and wonder why

you had been touching in the first place.


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