When Constructing Two Parallel Futures

— Mary Sims

        I wanted it to be anything other       than what stood in front of me.          & I knew that
                  before it started, hanging its flash      in my palms. Tracing
    the same lake. Same summer. Same          circle under & over & knowing a distance

                          could never record this—a boy & four hands. The things
we would give               to fold them twice. The water              didn’t stretch that far. But I still hid
                     all winter.               & before, we’d said things like, let’s make it
into a punchline

                          & I’m here to build it       around the punch. Into what I knew
      like skin. Every throw          a test of memory & lying
                                   on the ground. I talk like I can see you      around it. & look:
I even make a town

                                          where you followed the rocks            & nobody
                 was lost from it. Evenings sticky         & barn doors cut too short. The mirror image
facing forward—your old car        lasting January by the heater
                         & watching your father’s fig trees          drip. Any word

    I can think for fear without saying it     out loud. & here,       I can move the footprints
I found       by the swings. Frame them              like the broken fence
                                        you spent months fixing                 & who’s left to question

any of it? How every other body fell into mine         like prayer. That when the water
              opened my mouth,        we watched the sun            pull towards it.

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