itself a boy’s, in all her
uncertainty & sweetness,
calls every plumed white
contrail, every rafter briefly
holding the sky in its place.
That her twin sister angles
her dark eyes up to that same
aftermath, once it’s dissolved,
& says where did all our rivers
go hurts more than the real
river that once cut our town
in half & now snakes dry &
heavy with shattered jars &
blown tires & all those unkept
promises of water. Of reflections.
Our bridges now with nothing to do
but span & spider. Because the world
is always about to end, I ask them what
they see when the bedroom goes
dark & the echo of my lullabies
fades to eulogy & all that’s left is
the plumed white breath of winter
entering, unrequested, reminding
them of sky. & scrape. & lost rivers.
& she says I don’t even see
my body anymore. Only what
my body will be someday. Around her
my arms grow too heavy to steeple,
nearly too soft to bridge. As overhead
all signs disappear. & all wounds.
As if the world is readying itself for us.
For her. As the planes keep crossing over
our brows, briefly, lovingly, like ash.
• • •
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JOHN SIBLEY WILLIAMS is the author of nine poetry collections, including Scale Model of a Country at Dawn (Cider Press Review Poetry Award), The Drowning House (Elixir Press Poetry Award), As One Fire Consumes Another (Orison Poetry Prize), Skin Memory (Backwaters Prize, University of Nebraska Press), and Summon (JuxtaProse Chapbook Prize). His book Sky Burial: New & Selected Poems is forthcoming in translated form by the Portuguese press do lado esquerdo. A twenty-seven-time Pushcart nominee, John is the winner of numerous awards, including the Wabash Prize for Poetry, Philip Booth Award, Phyllis Smart-Young Prize, and Laux/Millar Prize. He serves as editor of the Inflectionist Review and founder of the Caesura Poetry Workshop series. Previous publishing credits include Best American Poetry, Yale Review, Verse Daily, North American Review, Prairie Schooner, and TriQuarterly.