THE SECOND PERSON HAS DEPARTED
A gold sequin dress isn’t any use in a fire. I scribble down every cypher
I gathered about you. There is no kindness in letting you know
when the world unclasps, emptying its prayer palms of us, our preordained
survival. Did you expect me to carry a gun? asks the body
of the lake. Like something broken loose, you’re there, stalking shore
in your thrifted aviator jacket. Triassic schools of sturgeon thrash
the silt, under the shade of absent reeds. Migratory fowls land in arrows
of feather, viscera. The rust that blood turns. Water becomes a blip
at the center. Water is an end. Kitten, you call, what colours survive
behind our cloudscape now? To no one in particular, to the me inside this
blue-ceilinged kitchen. I wish I could recollect you with gentler hands
than nostalgia. How it behaves as the aggressor, coercing renewal
from depleted sediment. It’s golden, I tell the you who left, and aflame
with newborn constellations. What you’d read there isn’t my guess.
Lauren Turner is a disabled poet and essayist. Her chapbook, We’re Not Going to Do Better Next Time, was published by knife | fork | book in March 2018, and her full-length debut, The Only Card in a Deck of Knives, came out with Wolsak & Wynn in August 2020. Her work has appeared in Grain, Arc Magazine, PRISM International, Poetry is Dead, Cosmonauts Avenue, The Maynard, The Puritan, BAD NUDES, canthius, and elsewhere. She won the 2018 Short Grain Contest, was a finalist for carte blanche’s 2017 3Macs Prize, and made the longlist for Room Magazine’s 2019 creative non-fiction contest. She lives in Tiohtiá:ke/Montréal on the unceded land of the Kanien’kehá:ka Nation.
This poem was originally published in Vallum issue 18:1 Invisibility.
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