The 2River View 28.1 (Fall 2023)

Mercedes Lawry

Exile Style

Bordering on the surreal
a liquid plank, a suite of plane trees,
rope, a bright sherbet yellow,
hallucination journey.

as hands reach across
to grab or grasp, to push aside
the overloaded boat.

Each breath accompanied by a pant,
Here’s hope in the drops of sweat
Here’s fear in the rough seas
The others, them, those
people arriving,

as if tawdry luggage, disposable sacks.
Witnesses are plentiful.
These stories could go in so many
directions. No one is mapping them.

Language Breakdown

I break the language into small bits,
swallow some, put the rest in the back
of a cupboard where no light can reach.
When I speak, rain puddles and rivers
meander further south. Only the birds
notice. There is no one in church,
not even a lost angel. I have the alleluias
to myself. Some words strain behind
my teeth, some sandpaper my throat.
They want out, so badly. I’m careful
but it only takes one slip, one hesitant pause.
In the cold March air, words are suspended
between bulbous clouds, precious to some.
I try to reclaim then, lure them with honeyed
sighs. Thus, I am diminished, less
of an alphabet, scurry of letters, forced
to make do with eye movements and facial
contortions. I am no longer the source,
the fountain, the encryption, the narrative.
There are gaps which means there are tears.
We’re in a sorry state.

Mercedes Lawry is the author of three chapbooks, and she has poems in journals such as Alaska Quarterly, Nimrod, and Superstition Review. Her new collection Small Measures is forthcoming from ELJ Editions, Ltd.
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