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Winter 2018/19

Meagan Brothers


to eat the wilderness,
to build a forest
out of fire –
we all want terribly
impossible things, don’t we?

I was encouraged
to be specific –
this parking lot,
this pistachio-colored automobile –
but I can’t see it anymore.
I think it was a
pontiac that took me back,
or something named after a tribe –
we obliterate then we
commemorate.  we
name you this machine. 
this is america, the all-nite
burger joint of the soul.

and it’s your boyhood
after the war;
the air tastes like asphalt
and diesel, orange blossoms
occasionally, depending on
the time of year.  you swallow
blood.  the taste of rust.  the
back of your father’s hand.

you eat neon, mercurys,
fords, chuck berry, dylan,
rolling stones, all the
trademarked desires.
there is no caution
in this wild flurry of days,

no endpoint.  there are wild
varieties of poisons and
stimulants.  eat this wilderness.
enjoy, enjoy,

enjoy this pagan gluttony
of albums and books,
witches and wolves,
these new languages
like iodine
on your tongue.

build a house
out of desert,
invite her in
to get warm.

win awards
for remembering,
for your relentlessly
clutching mind that can’t
just let it lie.
win medals
for daring to
write it all down.

become a man,
whatever that means.
fuck up.
tear it up, start again.

welcome the wild
nothing.  the vague
endpoint finally arriving
on the horizon.  welcome
the poisons meant to
ease the pain.

become the brooding ghost
stalking the periphery.

I was encouraged
to be specific.
this man,
this forest in flame.

but I was the glutton
who ate the wilderness,
the plymouth and dodge,
the mustard-colored antiques,
the FM radio, the motel
shadows, red flannel, the
turned wrench, the carbine
action, the pocketknife, the
letter with too many stamps,
the saddle, the mask,
the dusty jacket, the smell of
rust and unfiltered cigarettes,
the typewriter the ribbons
of ink winding gently away,

the quiet fire,
the house settling at night,
your distant hands,
folded in prayer.

I devoured these things.
I tasted your shape
on my tongue.
I drew an outline,
this rough sketch,
I spun like a compass,
figuring I’d find you
somewhere south of here,
back in the faded west.

I tasted the magnet’s pull
toward your heavy shadow,
but it wasn’t the darkness
I was after.  it was the light.
the spark of it.  the way you burned,
raging and bright,
the terribly impossible sun.

MEAGAN BROTHERS is the author of three novels for young adults.  Her poetry has appeared most recently in the Great Weather for Media anthology The Other Side of Violet, POSTblank Magazine, Persian Sugar in English Tea, and Maintenant 12.  A native Carolinian, she currently lives and works in New York City.




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