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  • Exodus, and: On Loving, and: Epithalamion
  • Leslie Marie Aguilar (bio)


The stars around this blue planet streak across the sky, leaving milky trails of dust & cosmic wind in their wake. This is elevated language, maybe; but these are high altitudes where the lack of water signals distress & the presence of water suggests potential distress. I’m of the mind that constellations are maps rather than myths—ancient plans for colonization. Unhappy with their terrestrial expansion, the ancients shifted their eyes up toward a pale horizon & made the leap from admiration to conquest in less time than I can imagine. If I tried, it might take less time to carve a slab of limestone from a quarry, or less time to cross a widening desert, or less time to erase centuries of scars from sunburnt skin. That the ancients, in their wisdom, built fantastic flying objects coated in rose gold & precious stones, set them ablaze with kindling gathered from every region on Earth, propelled themselves into & past the stratosphere isn’t too much of a leap. Now, imagine those ancients returning home &, being disillusioned with this planet, holding the first global council of elders, agreeing to pack their libraries into four door space vehicles, & leaving this rotating rock for another. That this was the first mass exodus from Earth is considerable. That we are the remnants of a better civilization, likely. [End Page 527]


I’m trying to think what love instructs.

Ross Gay

When the news breaks, I’m in the kitchenpreparing pumpkin pies for my sweetheart’sfavorite holiday. See, he’s had this dreamof eating so much food on Thanksgivingthat he passes out right at the table in frontof everyone—friends, family, onlookers.But tonight when I ask if he’s ready, he pauses,motions for me to stop. Tells me, he’s waitingfor something. I’m angry. I do not know, yet,that he’s waiting for news from the Midwest.Do not know. He’s been waiting. My sweetheartis quiet in his knowledge of the world. It seemseveryone is quiet, while I patiently measurecups of sugar into a mixing bowl. Frustrated,I make my way to the couch where he’s stationedhis bear-like body. His frame becomes rigid, &I’m afraid of the way this body becomes a stranger.His fingers latch onto my sugared hands, & wewatch as a white man in a brown suit speakswords about colored bodies. Now, I understandmy sweetheart’s hesitation—his short tone.I want to hold his head against my chest. Whisperwords that mean it will be okay. But tonight,our bodies are enemies of a struggle that belongsin the streets outside our apartment, in the courtsoutside our apartment, everywhere but the homethat we share. I want to ask for his thoughts,untethered by the color of his skin or by the educationwe both possess, but he’s afraid. I prod & pokeuntil he’s flushed in the face. The words that slippast his lips are empty assurances, monotone [End Page 528] like the timer on the stove. I’ve forgotten the pies.I want to apologize for: postponing his dream, notrecognizing his hurt, not understanding my own.Here, we are man & woman, not brown & white,but the world outside our apartment tells us we shouldbe indignant, & we should. But the warmth betweenour still shocked bodies feels like enough of a protest.If I take his hand in my own, raise both above our heads,will the knot become a large enough banner? I wonderif there is a gesture for this—the moment two loversrecognize their bodies are at odds & must navigatea way back into each other’s arms, a way back home. [End Page 529]


If I needed you, would you bear    the weight of my bowing back

to the edge of a creek bed    packed with salts & lead?

Could you cable this body,    lean it against cedar branches,

build a barn of splintered bones    over the barren resting place?

I’m already braced for wind.    Take my hand. We...


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pp. 527-530
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