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You Choose the World: A Poetics

Called inside by the consonance of the familiar, you down the irremediable loneliness of something long gone, its bootleg liquor. What if instead you remained in the mosquito lushness of the present, letting your arms and legs feel the itch spread toward the world’s edges? What if your discomfort became one with the world’s, the itchiness unable to resolve either/or? Your daughter says, “I’m itching it,” as if the itch were self-imposed. And it is. Who else to blame? You cannot love the world enough, so take a deep breath, exhale the frightened girl no one knows exists. And at the sound of your father returning from work, his black hair undulating beneath your eyelids, suck her back in. Feel now buoyant, now desperate. Push your body to the surface, cough into the room. In the unsettled dust of another windstorm, be of service to the child who arrives alone. To the man who carries court papers through the airport in a Ziploc bag. The woman who nurses her newborn in a cage, unable to lie down. Let the itch release and multiply, love the world. Be for it. Kill Mother and Father’s scene, raise the scrim, thin as breath. Will it be unbearable? To know you are not alone but with the world, that not everything broken can be repaired? Your body will always be placed at a long glass table, asked to choose between opposing forces: at one end a refugee pulled from a boat by one arm, at the other, the origin story you tell yourself, safe and far from harm. Dwell in the negotiations. Now that you are an orphan, family is of your choosing. As always, it will be imperfect.