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in between us
with IOUs and high interest bank loans,
believing that closing the space could close the space

believing in steel and gerder
in rivet in rust in suspension.

Can you tell I’m being poignant?
In the absence, I am trying show a strength we know
I don’t have. But my shoulders
widen a little every day,
stretch to span the space.
one day I can lie
face down in the ocean
and the fingertips of my left hand
may touch the dirt you roused on your morning run and that will be
something.

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in small ways by small victories,
by the battlefield of Tuesday, bearing breakfast
teeth bared, barely breathing,
the cement in your lungs still soft.

In small ways, you tell
the story of your fingertips: soft touch
on holly leaves, the tiny drops of blood,
the parts of you you don’t count 
when you count the parts.
The sum of what you left behind. To live

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I like to imagine
a long, scrolling will,
a grand apology, a currency admission
of guilt and loneliness and shame

but I know there will be none
of that, and I will stand up
and not laugh, and not accuse
or elicit gasps or applause or embarrassment.
Instead, I’ll tell the story
of the two shot guns sharing the closet
during hide and seek,
the way you told us they were toys
the way we nearly died from the excitement
the small lies and small hands you
didn’t think through in the bedroom closet
between the Christmas presents and the old shoes. 

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I am not a snake,
because I have these big cracked hands,
because I cannot shed my skin so quickly.
I am not the awkward amends
in a high school yearbook.
I am not a cop’s baton
or his nightmares. I am
not the poet asking what it all means.
I am not what it all means. 

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I.

because somebody didn’t write you love letters,
you wrote yourself love letters.
because no one tucked you into bed,
you kissed your fingers, pressed them to your head.
because flowers didn’t grow in your backyard,
you drew eden on the bones in your arms. 

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Figure I’ll die before I’ve stomped myself into dry dirt.
Figure the ocean will spit me back up
and swallow me again. Do I taste like sugar?
Like sweat, like stomach acid, empty spaces,
knives, copper, linen, song?
Figure a sunny day,
when my knees bend backward,
I will be a luggage-fit,
carry on.

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I am eating sand like an ostrich
sand between crooked teeth
in split lip ground in sand
in my nostrils inhale breathe in
small grains hundreds exhale.
Don’t exhale.

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We are shadows.
Stacking shades of grey,
Building shadows and
Mismatched scrambled jigsaw pieces and
Empty thank you cards
And “shut up” goodbyes.

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There’s a thud in that hurricane room,
then small feet fast on pavement.
Small steps across the huge street.
There are slinking neighbors,
so many hands.
Quick speech, small words,
no sirens.
There are night lights, roses,
small feet tip-toeing shapes in the backyard sand,
leftovers for dinner, and bruises.

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Not a story of the way my childhood
built me, staunch skyscraper,
braced for quake, graffiti eyes.
An architecture leaning forward,
and so much broken glass.

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