The 2River View 24.1 (Fall 2019)

Jesse DeLong

As if the runnel is a river

As if the runnel is a river, and the wedding dress a baby sent on a reed-woven carriage, the dress drapes over the storm grate. Bird lifts its fabric, the yellowish lace flapping as water gurgles into the opening. She leers up at me. This is where she will nest: the sun half-clotted by clouds.

The way you feel—a tooth sensitive to saliva.
“Yes,” Bird says, “I do”. Everything else is a squat
little plot of land the wind begins to rip up.
Feeling the way you are, Bird, is sensitive. Saliva
germs have begun to gum up. Fingers, stinging
because the blood is too constricted, seem sensitive.
They are really dulled by the way you feel
everything. Or else. “I say,” she does. “Yes.”

Sitting on a hill overlooking Tuscaloosa

Sitting on a hill overlooking Tuscaloosa, the view we hoped for—what, exactly?—turns out to be streetlights in a dirty string over the valley. As if someone, too lazy, like me, to take down the Christmas lights, stumbled outside, post-storm, a June morning, and saw the lights strewn on the grass, still lit, though most of the bulbs busted, and didn’t bother, because of how their light is subject to the sun’s light, picking them up.

Smashed bits of glass, the trials of an afternoon—
now only night, heat, the press of knucklebone.
The light of the sky, as if to make room, overwhelms
with its bright bits of glass. An event that, after
it happens, is stripped away. Memory is
the shadow of someone in an alley as we walk by.
After you, trembling—the smashed bits of your life.
Only now, the night pressed. So often, a knucklebone.

Jesse DeLong has appeared in Colorado Review, Indiana Review, Mid-American Review, and Typo, as well as in the anthologies Best New Poets 2011 and Feast: Poetry and Recipes for a Full Seating at Dinner.

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