In the middle of Nebraska, our parents
became the smell of sage and a bitten
nectarine, respectively. They kept getting
eaten, alive and so completely. I’d chase you
through the pear tomatoes, lanced by slivers
from the vines, yelling, Is that our mother
in your mouth? Brother. We did not come
from indefatigable incisions. They have always
been disappearing, even before we consumed
them, before you learned to climb up
to the hot burner. It has always been
raining, and when it never rains at all I wish
it would so you’d come inside. What will I
do when you are gone from me.
Let’s commandeer a ferry, a small one, with room
for us, some flashlights and pop-tarts,
the bracelet I wear to alert medical personnel
that I have certain deadly allergies. There is
something satisfying about the end, its round
finality. But we’re addressing the bed and not
the body in it. We can speculate, will manhole
covers seize on columns of steam, or will it be
a series of sounds like fireworks and then
nothing. The blocks blinking out in domino
rows, windows sucked in and shattered.
A darkness unbroken even by the thin blue light
of the law. A silence, like crepitus, you feel
more than hear. I could steal us a car, you know.
No one would be there to arrest us but
if they did I’d take the fall and they’d try me
as a juvenile, it’d be the only good this face
ever did me. There’s no reason to think
that in the movie of our lives, we’d survive.
Look at the size of us—I’m tall as a man and still
I cannot lift you. Pretend I can lift you. Every
little bit helps. I can skin a weasel with your
butter knife. I can navigate by star and compass.
I can make you love me with a papercut. We bite
our fists and check our watches because catastrophe,
like heartbreak, is useless without punctuality.
There is nothing in the clouds, and it’s falling fast.
Hilary Vaughn Dobel’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in print with Lana Turner, Ploughshares, and A Public Space, and online with Kenyon Review and Guernica. She holds an MFA in poetry and literary translation from Columbia University. A native of Seattle, Washington, she lives and works in Somerville, Massachusetts. For more information, see her website at hilaryvdobel.wordpress.com.