Punctuating the Living

Kelli Russell Agodon

It would be easier if the world were built

                    from commas, but instead we’re high

                                         on exclamation points, someone

slamming the brakes of the van in the driveway,

                    someone walking into the house

                                        and shouting, We’re done!

What we travel through daily is a period

                    of time, a minute black hole, a steady

                                        waltz, as if we are slow dancing

with death, the lover who never understood us.

                    My closet holds a world built

                                        from semi-colons, everything

is a full statement; everything is a part

                    of everything else. If my life depended on it,

                                        I’d find a push-up bra and a pair

of stilettos to lure death into a dirty bar,

                    but in my town, we survive

                                        in socks and sandals, a book

of poetry in our bag. I’ll take God for $100, Alex,

                    whether or not He or She wants me,

                                        whether or not, I’ve made

His or Her list. Maybe prayer is what comes after

                    the exclamation point and the apology

                                        is the ellipses in another person’s voice.

Life is saying we’re done and falling back in love

                    after the black hole closes shop,

                                        and we’re all left slow dancing

each other into another decade. And the flicker

                    of God, I saw it in the shoes

                                        of the other dancers,

saw it in the slight glare of the questionmark

                    saying, Hi, I’m new here, is this how we begin?


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