Matthew Gellman

Riding over the water’s enamel

cold leaks from the sap. A fish

slows his heart in the hollows, flecks

of his spine a sequined rind of sun.

I wanted my mouth to split the lit space

between the words dance and don’t,

slipping out of the dress mother bought me

before it was thrown away, not turning

from loneliness, really, just learning to treat it

as wind, to make a meager meal

of what boyhood of lacquer and moody

I clung to. No one can brighten the sky

that’s been polluted by smoke’s crooked sentence.

No one can govern the past into gloaming.

But I will not make a life out of pain.

Each animal walks with a cloud in its throat,

each outline of body a beggar. The train

crawls forward. Light percolates through the ether.


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