new poem. Susan O’Dell Underwood. Specter.

24 Sep


Associate those days with hives of bees,
black snakes along the hewn foundations of barns.

It is a conjugation of memory.

We ran through the mowed yard
and flung the dark aside with sparklers,
singeing phosphorescent lines into the black,
a fleeting alphabet of who we were.

They told us others answered those names before us,
the gruesome old and putway dead.
No one would ever catch us just by calling.
The grass went cool to easy dew
beneath our pommeling feet.

Sometimes they even said—as if in verse—whose feet,
whose toes, whose eyes, whose hair.
They disagreed.
“No, he looks just like himself,”
someone would finally declare, as if it were a joke,
a lie, a lesson yet to come.

We never owned a toy big as that nighttime,
ignited in frivolity of flesh and fire,
the smell of gunpowder on our fingertips.

Our lights sizzled, white-blinding us
to where they waited,
saying things we couldn’t fathom
while we burned the last minutes to pieces,
until finally we had no excuse except to come inside,
but not until every last
shriveled dust of wire was spent.


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