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Jan 2017
When it was all over, we sat in the San Gabriel
and washed ourselves like crocodiles.
We had lived in a world of sweat.

We joked as an old tire floated by
that it wouldn’t be long until we spotted
the rest of the car.

We watched the ants at their little work,
their little loads, and
being good, we did not interrupt them.
A big dumb foot lands in your way
you drop a leaf from your mandibles
and you can’t bear to pick it up again.

I had to become something to carry us.
Something strong. Something stone.
I crouched under my task and the sun beat upon me,
until I was small, like they were.

I was splitting firewood with
a dull, cheap axe. You spun
beneath an umbrella and asked me
to join you. I wanted to ask,
is life better when the hand you hold
holds yours back.

I wanted to look up and see you spinning,
but could not lift my gaze from the ground.

Cold front. Warm front.
Mercury in retrograde.
If I knew the words once to say it
I do not know them now.

I wished I could hear the birds
like you did. I wanted evidence but also
wanted song. You sat crosslegged
while I looked in the manual.
The red breast you took to mean “heart”
I took to mean “dying”
so I sketched his little face in soundless rictus.
while you closed your eyes entirely and listened.

I carried the wood behind you while
you shone a flashlight ahead.
You whistled a little birdsong.
I dreamed that I could spin you forever and never get tired.
Wade Redfearn
Written by
Wade Redfearn
     Mote, --- and Sanjukta Nag
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