Formaldehyde’s Love Song

Photo: © Amy Dupcak. All rights reserved.

I have the strange power of preservation,
and I am confined to it.
People come up to me and stare. I know
it is because of this hand, rotten from cold,
that I hold suspended inside me.
I cannot help thinking that their awe,
their grotesque twistings of face are for me,
but nobody looks at the jar for the fluid.
Sometimes someone comes and gently rubs
the jar with a cloth. I like that.
Dust thinly clouds as the cloth passes.
I admire the temporary world.
There are others like me here.
Each of us is alone, separated on all sides
by glass, carrying some object
that defines us but that we did not choose.
But her, there on the far end of this room,
I love her. She is the first the sunlight touches.
She houses a gangrenous hand,
but harbors it with such grace.
Even if she were next to me,
she would be an impossible distance.
O! what is her hand? Is it my complement?
Would that matter? Would two lefts make it right?
Sometimes a laughless joke beats silence.
Every morning, I dream of stealing two feet
and running away with her,
but my deepest wish is for us
to be poured out into each other,
inseparable, no longer her, no longer me.

Seth Amos is cofounder and former poetry editor of Rivet: The Journal of Writing That Risks. His work has been published in or is forthcoming from Tin House, Blood Orange Review, The Fourth River, The Canopy Review, and elsewhere.

Appears In

Issue 13

Browse Issues