The Mechanics of Survival

Eugenia Leigh

I smoked my first cigarette next to a trashcan

spray-painted W-R-S-H-P

a call to worship in the bowels

of Will Rogers State Historic Park.

I sucked down my last

the day a Boeing 737 dove into the sea outside Bali,

and all one hundred and eight passengers

survived. Let’s tell more stories

like this one. About how to stay alive.

About the time buildings yielded to the earth

on my right, while the ocean soared

scraper-high on my left.

The planet in seizures,

I begged pardon for the years I’d wished to die,

and gunned it like the Israelites

wild across the split sea.

My husband materialized next to me.

Then twelve of us. Forty more. And in the end,

nine billion, hand in hand,

charged from our erupting world.

I woke next to the yellow note

taped to my wall — a handwritten list

of the people I love

and the mountains they’ve slipped from.

Each morning, I touch their names.

I picture the friend, the sister,

then picture the sun

pulling for us between wreckage and waves —

a hand in a crevice feeling for a lost ring.

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