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2 AUBADES by Whitney Devos

still trying to rub coal out of our pajamas, a difficult light
the ceiling
a spleenful, you said, enough
to grind down a continent
like sugar
in the morning, the tin sky
no one knows if fire will catch today, who will be caught in a mine shaft
if there’s one song we both know, we better goddamn sing it
there’s a sun somewhere, this waking
        & no pity left
last night I dreamt in black
& white; our necks were bound
with strips of flannel & sweet-
smelling kerosene
we had children’s bodies
& so licked one another
as if the mouth’s dark
liquid was seed & we were birds, only
we are pinned
to the earth,
raw cotton swung in a dry wind
when the cage is lifted two separate roads appear. though unspoken, it is understood we felt around in the grass as long as drought allowed. I wanted to unearth a face so badly it did not matter the body was not yours. here a story begins and ends; what I recovered was not entirely human. regardless, the desire itself was: to have one memory go uncharred. instead a hideous understanding begins to lodge in my abdomen, another a piece of flint. incisions appear around my ankles. meanwhile you carry on as if we trampled lawns only for a year’s amusement; as though the cracks beneath us will converge into a single prismatic trail, and at the end we’ll make a toast on an old front porch. no, standing at the edge of a prehistoric lake, we learned the Aymara word Uyuni means ‘pen’ or ‘enclosure’. that during courtship male flamingos point their bills to the sky while the female lowers her head and spreads her wings. you told me then a cage is only a kind of bell jar. I understand now how deliberately you’ve misrepresented science, how silent it is not when one crawls out from under the glass.
Whitney DeVos lives in a structure somewhat resembling a treehouse. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in print and online in The Southeast Review, elimae, The Destroyer, lo-ball magazine and elsewhere.