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  • Thirteen, and: B. Tyler Henry
  • Alexandra Teague (bio)


It is difficult to mark the limits of superstition.


It is not better when your fears are numberless;any step could betray you. Any night, at any dinner,someone could die. Better to mark the apostlesand the one turning away; the nameless

month the extra moon creates. Its unfortunatelight would spill from the monks' new calendarslike rain, and what could catch it? Better to sitan even dozen at your table; better to let

the extra starve than harbor this:tera, tera, tera repeated to show that beyondcompleteness is all God's creation. Betterto count your fears on two good hands,then count again three fingers back from death.

B. Tyler Henry

Gunsmith, Master Mechanic, and Inventor of the Most Effective Weapon in the World, 1860

Sewing machines were always temporary—slackdrive belts and lithium grease on gears, and womenwhirring around me like wasps in nests of cloth.I missed the guns. How, almost human, they pushed back, [End Page 149]

recoiled or refused to fire. I missed their faithful dark:the cartridges waiting inside the magazine as soulsmust do somewhere before this earth, and after. Breechand lever, those rimfires rushed fresh through—the art

of shot-followed shot. My hands understood beforethe metal could; my hands—before Winchester's own—fired the ne plus ultra, as they're calling it, of Repeatingor Revolving Arms. The firing pin, the bolt, the lore

of new-flanged cartridges and sixteen shots, I'd tradefor nothing. I saw this world ready, willing to be made.

Alexandra Teague

Alexandra Teague is the author of Mortal Geography (Persea), winner of the 2009 Lexi Rudnitsky Prize and the 2010 California Book Award. Her poetry has appeared in Best American Poetry 2009, Best New Poets 2008, and many journals. The recipient of a 2011 NEA grant, she is an assistant professor of poetry at the University of Idaho.



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