Oct 5, 2022 • 2M


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“He who put the soul in the body is the One to remove it."
-- from the Babylonian Talmud

You touch down in Azerbaijan, in the form of a breath. For years you pass person to person via kisses or occasionally resuscitations. One day I kiss someone, a stranger, and there you are. Then I go to the Mississippi and build you a body of clay, breathe you into it, thumbprint the word LIFE onto your face. We run away to the circus with a knife throwing act. Sometimes I throw the knives, sometimes you. You wear a silver cape, I wear a silk dress the color of the sky above your grave, lots of cleavage. I grow my hair long, let it go gray, and you braid it. Black roses for earrings. At night you lie sleepless beside me, and I dream the same dream: all the walls falling outward, again and again. Every day I read the tarot for us, and every day I draw death, the hanged man, and the fool, however much I shuffle the cards. I learned in Group once that you must play the hand you’re dealt, but you threw all your cards down, dealt me a game of 52 pickup. Never mind. For your birthday I buy you a stuffed owl, for mine you break off one of your toes, but it crumbles to dust. We change our act to trapeze, so that every day we are flying, no net. I chalk up my hands on yours. But you are too heavy, and one day you fall. I watch your body break into pieces as I hurtle through air. Then all the parts of you burst into flame. I put a thumbprint of ash on my forehead, in case someone else’s god will save you this time. 

-- Amy Isikoff Newell