by Kelly Rose Pflug-Back

In the hospital, I dreamed that death lay beside me

my face a pale cameo
in the wreath
of her powder-gloved hands.

Leech-wife, reaper
she bathed my hair in strange attars
in tinctures of dark, bitter roots

as the doctors reached inside me
to do their strange tampering

unravelling skeins of dyed wool,
tangled strands of bloody pearls
bound in yellowed twine

those mangled pieces of you and I
and never will be.

In every city where your mother ever lived, it was raining:
it was raining on the broad leaves of poplar trees on the street where you grew up
and on the eaves of the building
where your grandfather died.

All winter I remember how we warred beneath this roof —
my sadness filled whole rooms

nesting in the lint of empty cupboards
curled on its haunches
in the damp of the kitchen sink.

Perhaps when I am gone you will find a space in your life
shaped like this, I thought
a chalk outline of my heavy body.

The phone will ring and ring
and no one will answer

and you will find yourself wishing you never raised your voice
or slept all those nights
with your back turned to me

I am sorry, sir
but no one lives here by that name.

Our bodies are flowing columns of script, my love
our bodies are continents divided;

pogroms, floods
world wars
have conspired to bring us here

into the lisp and stutter of this life's strange passage
into the respite of each other

and this
we must never forget.

After you and I have found ten thousand ways to hurt and mend each other

after dawn has paled over the world's mad wreckage
and my heart's landfill
flutters with the grey wings of gulls

after Autumn's tissue paper ghosts have blown free from bare fingerbone trees
and the department store Santas have closed their cotton wool eyes

after the trembling in my hands
at last, subsides

the party guests will grow tired of dancing
the patriarchs will ease themselves from creaking chairs
and button the buttons of their dark coats

and you and I will find ourselves
alone, laughing at nothing
in the third-floor rooms of your parents' house

where I will tell you that I love you, still
the way I did when we were children

I love you, still
the way I did when we were old.

Kelly Rose Pflug-Back writes poetry, short fiction, and articles. Her stuff has appeared in places like the Toronto Star, NOW Magazine, The Feminist Wire, Ideomancer Speculative Fiction, Stone Telling, Counterpunch, and many others, as well as having won awards from This Magazine's Great Canadian Literary Hunt, the Tshepo Institute, and the P.K. Page Foundation. Her book of poems, These Burning Streets, is available from Combustion Books (2012), and she is currently working on an MA in Development and Refugee Studies, studying the links between forced migration and resource extraction industries. Follow her on twitter at @kellypflug or check out her poorly maintained blog here. Her favourite fruit is the mango, but only when combined with red chillies.

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