What We Are Not


“‘I feel there is an angel in me’ she’d say

‘whom I am constantly shocking’”

              —Lawrence Ferlinghetti


I.

you are sometimes the

sound of horses

clenching their jaws

their teeth only finding

more teeth

listening for the sound of apples falling

a thousand miles away and

the sound of hooves

disappearing like angels

disappear, do you remember


how we missed them

and how your braids looked like flora


I am thinking of the horses

without braids running away

from our hands holding bags of apples

in the field on the mountain, remember?


II.

slamming their hooves into my spine

I’ll give you this body to trample

if that is what it takes

to feel more like earth


III.

my braids don’t remind the horses

of the horses without braids


certainly not the winged horses

plastered on the rooftop

bodies full of cement

so many things given wings

with heavy bones


and the horses with braids

have hands pulling at the edges of their mouths

their teeth grinding steel

these legs straddling their spines

your hair growing unlike roots

our bodies float as sound floats


IV.

they roll their flesh in dirt for pleasure

eat through valleys with forty teeth


V.

there are horses trying to gnaw away

the cement in their bones and

are left with themselves

as piles of dust

I don’t remind the horses on the rooftop

of horses on the rooftop, but closer


VI.

If you watch me gnaw at the earth in my bones,

will it help you to remember, angel?

what it is like—

what you gave

to ascend


a clutter of nights, the sounds of heavy bodies

smashing their hooves into the earth


VII.

which was your body once, too

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