It happens each day. Black water scallops like obsidian. I begin
to count backward in a dory, between oars, duffle coat draped stiff
from my shoulders. I’m unsure of the time, of what I’ll do—the lake of blue petals below. Over the bow my fingers brush water,
leave small wakes. I make a mess of things. A bird sings from the bank
like a needle. Something lodges like a pit in my throat. My mouth
pries open, oblivious. Willow juts through my teeth like bees, and I forget
my body, my hands, like an argument, while, at the river’s edge, families hold candles close to their moonlit nightgowns, as they whisper when they turn from me, [End Page 115]
as I empty past them, try to tell them the war is over (though it isn’t) and wake a deer bent down inside me— I’m alone.
I believe I’m alone when I’m alone. I cannot move, and a woman is taking my hair. [End Page 116]
Justin Boening is the author of Self-Portrait as Missing Person, which was selected by Dara Wier for a Poetry Society of America’s National Chapbook Fellowship. He’s currently finishing his first full-length collection with support from Bucknell University, where he’s the Roth Resident at the Stadler Center for Poetry.