A Place to Put the Body

All parties barely survived: the gas pump,
the driver and the truck that sailed
into my uncle filling up on his lunch break.

A body can stand up then snap into nameless
and brand-new positions. Just shatter,
reconfigure, medicate, release.

He was released, his body a bouquet
of terror in disproportionate bloom,
wounded and bent,

drinking in profusion.
A rain began. His daughter moved home
to help. Eventually sun, eventually light

upon the white of her belly,
upon the needles and the bruised fridge.
When the first baby came,

they let her keep it, another thing
among dependent things. Everyone
felt sorry, then sorrier by way

of abundant silence for her second.
I was ten and pretended to sleep for the quiet
I needed to decide how to kill him. Nobody else

would have to look. He wouldn’t have to
do anything. I dreamed. I folded.
Before long, I stopped thinking

about the mud spewing upward
from tires, about infants and men
howling for their hearts while mine

drew breath like a well-handled sail.
Even now, I wonder if his body dreams
about leaving its family, forever

in search of the same family
that I, too, keep in a knot in my throat.
Perhaps it doesn’t matter.

One of the babies disappeared before she could
walk. The other, overfilled with sharp
vision and sharper love, still screams like a bird

until sunrise.
If my body were plowed into a gas pump,
a grown man’s weight in shattered parts

thrashing like smoke in a shallow black pool,
I’d want to make you look at me.
I’d light a fire between the fragments

of my ribs and tell you sorry,
but get in here now.
For Christ’s sake, give me your hand.

Jennifer Bundy is a poet and author of the audio chapbook Girls (EAT Poems). She is the Director of Bridge Eight Press and Co-director of the Douglas Anderson Writers’ Festival. She has taught at IES José María Infantes, a secondary art institute in Sevilla, Spain, and Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in her hometown of Jacksonville, Florida.

Appears In

Issue 7

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