Maybe I could have believed her in another time.
Without the girls pulled underwater, the foaming dark brine,
bubbles risen on ruby blue lips. She was my Clementine
and like an old song she kisses the little fish now,
swimming as a ghost does through blood-colored waters.
Maybe in a place without the ground crackling like a beast,
where they run for the earth and are shot down from the east,
I could have believed her. I could have trusted her one hand
and risen above machine guns and machetes but it turns out
humans are far too heavy. The things they carried broke their backs
with regret and pounds, with only pure forms of grief allowed,
and my city didn’t make the list of those that deserve oxygen.
If the red wasn’t seeping through her teeth, having risen up
to gather in pools on the crowns, a rivulet down the jaw and neck
to collarbones cracked beneath; if she hadn’t been pulled down
by all the monsters in the metal. All the smothering smiles.
Drowned by cruelty and guile, black angel wings, I watch
as they tear her tendons apart at the seams. This is a memory
I choke on, a story that won’t ever unhook from my tongue,
a riddle that continually carves and capsizes my lungs.
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