Winter Effluvium

— Nadra Mabrouk

After you’ve carried your father to bed,
your hands feel ancient—an unrecognizable wound
enveloping another, a mouth limp enough
to carry a child home.

I try to say, Maybe it didn’t need to happen this way,
touching your back, careful to comb
the scattered snow, careful not to crush
your rewoven wingspan.

A downward trend in ice.
This January, a glacier in fragments still,
the next, your silken body.

In the end, only the animals knew
where the water was going.
You are standing at the sink
half crying a song that’s never about me
though I know that part of your throat
is where the soil congeals, secretive.

You try to make a climbing post
for him out of your chilled bones,
a rib for every two inches,
but he just wants to sleep in this flatness
and I want to put your younger self back in its fur,
tell you once you carry something, that’s it.
Tell you to come back, there is a rabbit
boiling in one of the pots, that’s it.

Early morning, you are asleep
and the city is all static, distant lightning flaring
into nameless chords.
I turn towards this older light, a shape
I imagine a song must make leaving your vague organs,
shapes I imagine endangered animals must make
before their last meal, that final broken bow.

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