Peony Lim by Vanessa Jackman

Camilla Akrans Photography

December 21st, 2002 // Brett Elizabeth Jenkins


It’s said it takes seven years

to grow completely new skin cells.

To think, this year I will grow

into a body you never will  

have touched.

Zero At The Bone - Stacie Cassarino


First the snow for days. Blankout. Frost heaves. I shovel away your tracks. I expect you. I think one night you’re holding my feet at the edge of the bed, you’re downstairs reading The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other. I smell you in the sheets. Wind blows  the door open. Even the single bluebird is looking for you. For 40 nights I dream you leave again with no warning. I memorize it. I want to be a better person. March leaves us cold & clung with our heads off, each false memory of touch, the sky’s spindrift, loss taking residence in my throat. I touch myself in a parked car. I understand what a bridge is for. I remember the taste of your mouth. I come home to nothing. Once, I said:  you’ve got to live like everything will hurt you. Now I believe it. There was a woman on her knees stealing the silver from a fish. April and ladybugs fill the house. I imagine their omen. Athena’s owl in the old barn. A dear man calling the turkeys in the field. Then the first green, the geese returning to Dead Creek, the unrecoverable code of treefrogs in the pond we circled in the old year. The well still frozen. I break all my rules. I eat buffalo and lamb, then pray. I tell my father you’re the one I love. Then I count up the Junes.  Do you think animals know they’re going to die? The heart’s a decoy. This heart unwinters against your will. No one can know what goes on there, though we try. We improvise. We go to the taxidermist for a javelina. Grandma sings me a song on the phone. If this is all there is, I am without a body desperate for the sorcery of summer. Sometimes the little things: trillium in the woods, the red wing of the blackbird, rhubarb and fiddleheads, wild berries, a marsh hawk hunting. Thunder comes late each day. I walk knee-deep in the meadow: pink poppies, mint. These are fieldnotes for healing. When will I stop asking after you? I watch a dog die on Highway 684. The part about desire is that it runs you over. By the time I’m someone else, you’re gone. Wicked promise against what lasts. Bees knock on these windows. What my body wants to say to your body, it cannot.