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Allison Stagner



I was the man built like a grandfather clock. The top of my head gleamed like a knot of wood. Remember me? You were the woman with a bead in your ear. It glistened like the abdomen of a bottleneck fly. You were describing to your companion how first, in their cocoons, caterpillars liquefy themselves. You were saying, I thought, how you imagined the process. How it must be like that series of nights after your fusebox blew. How you had to learn to miss the light; how you never once thought to look at the moon while the electricity was out, the way you sometimes forgot to look into your husband’s eyes for days at a time; how you learned to walk in darkness, hands out, touching either side of the hall with the faces of your fingertips, whose fingers were ringless but felt silvered in reaching. How you had expected to pass through the black hall, only to feel the black hall pass into you instead, and how your hands then became doubts; how the harmonic terror of maybe never really having hands after all kept on dividing and dividing inside you, until every organ was sealed up in an alabaster jar of uncertainty; how you felt presented by a choice you never wanted or knew existed. How even just naming the memory that emerged on the other side, which pierced like the ceremonial sunbeam through the bus window and onto your earring in the only side of your face I could see, became the tack pinning a still-living moth to foam. Why do people try to know each other?





dream of your torsos in grasses / of mosses

thickened tipsily about your heads


and furring into helmets / earth-sons / earth

night has smaller dreams / the stale slices


of birthday cake / the palominos leaning

over the barbed fence / the half-drowsing


telephones near widows-to-be /

neil, edwin, ours awhile / lost


or dozing amid basins / splayed

in basalt soil / in rock-dust, we could not


desert you / can’t help but

orchestrate you / overshoes and metal suits


and soft skin / to sleep under the call

of your names / to say there is no moon


except new moon / no clue striking

the dust on our awnings / as heat


is washed gently from bodies

in the space / in the pressure


of your names / in the mild scentless-

ness of their star-scourge / how fucked


up are we? whose rocks / whose soils

left to turn over? scaffolding you


high as wind through a tower / expecting

you would lower us back down to us


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