by Stevie Edwards
After lying sleepless until the sun winnowed
golden through the east-facing mini blinds,
I finally doze and miss my morning
bus to New York City.
I joke to John that the city will still be there
the next day with its infrastructure
of fast walkers and garbage-lined
streets. Pause. To speak of this
metropolis recast as human
by the now ten-year-old image of
its fragility without mournfulness
is either a good spell for getting over
the ruined architecture of sacrosanctity
or a bad spell for forgetting the lives
of the dead and their unreal burial
beneath buildings. The next day,
I can’t sense the city’s obituaries
but it’s true people I have not known
and never would have known
died in terrible and peaceful ways.
The viridity of spring has lowered
early in Brooklyn this year.
I worry we’re before the last
night frost and will wake to a carnage
of flowers, dewy cleaved stems
and stamens: We will have to look
at their dead and know it is natural
to fail ourselves.
—For Tsutomu Yamaguchi
When nobody would employ
your cadaverous frame but the occupying forces;
when your hair fell out for fifteen years
of trying to be new again;
when your burned skin kept burning;
when chickens pecked
at maggots that colonized
your stripped skin; when your daughter
found you hideous in your perpetual
bandages; when nine cancers
took your son; did you curse
or thank the recalcitrant drum
daring your body forward
into this world that sanctioned
scarifying your life?
Cataract your eyes.
The strange white flash
that turned your skin inside out, twice,
in two abraded cities,
will be what you are remembered for:
what stole earth from you.
Stevie Edwards currently resides in Ithaca, NY, where she is working toward completing an MFA in creative writing at Cornell University. Her first full-length collection of poetry, Good Grief, was published by Write Bloody Publishing in April 2012. She is the editor-in-chief of MUZZLE Magazine, editor of 4th & Verse Books, assistant editor of EPOCH, and a proud alumna of Chicago’s Real Talk Avenue. Her work has appeared in Verse Daily, Rattle, Thieves Jargon, Union Station, Night Train, PANK, Word Riot, and decomP.