Tide of the Century

Gravity fastens itself to each ankle

& pulls me from my bed, to the window.

Across the street, a small boy clutches

an icicle. Fluid leaks from his palm.

In the fog-dense evening, he’s an eclipse

of reality. Somewhere in the U.K., water

rises in an estuary, & I’m afraid it will

never stop. Is there order here? Can we

protect it? My grandmother was cremated

& my mother, hating the notion, sealed

the fireplace & buried candlesticks

in the garden. My father offered, Maybe

we don’t have to die cold. Place the word

trust on your tongue—does it dissolve

like a pill? Can you swallow it whole?

The ocean swells. With the surge comes

a crash—I’m afraid of falling. I’m not afraid

of heights. Each night, I ascend towards sleep

then slam against my mattress & explode.

I sit up. I fuse myself back together. Remember:

memory is a sundress hanging at the edge

of darkness, & death is nothing but

a bloomless sky. But the danger of being

swept away is not up for debate. We know

there aren’t enough spotlights to track

the rising tides, & if truth is what can’t be

unsewn from the stars of a flag, then honesty

is this boy in the street, clutching an icicle—

which is really a shard of glass. Blood seeps

from his palm, & what I thought was fog

is really two thousand snow geese, falling

dead from the sky                 

*

Jenny Boychuk’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Best New Poets 2016, Salt Hill, The Pinch, Prairie Fire, Room, Birdfeast, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from the University of Michigan Helen Zell Writers’ Program, where she is currently a Zell Fellow.

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