Isaac Pressnell Some Reasons

How you settled in my gut

like a drop of blood in a cup of tea.

How my wounds became mouths

miming the song that glows in your throat.

At the wedding: love her like Christ

loved the church. And your huff

livened the crucifix, made Jesus weep,

his tears smearing his chest, which grew

into breasts and bled but nobody saw.

That our fathers are starving

birds that rustle in us

when we kiss.

The day I split roots with a shovel

as you said some words for the cat

that chose your yard to die.

How I knew then:

we could bury our children.

Spring has arrived from the waist

down, you said.

Awakened at four on a work night,

your laugh—a cloud pregnant

with moonlight.

That the seeming continues to seem.

When I kissed your head as you left

the surf, I couldn’t tell

your sweat from the sea.

The cranky birds announcing

dawn. How we grieve differently

now—the howl holding its own

echo in the shape of the cave.

That you accept this garden

of affection I keep

for different women.

How the immigration agent

saw a woman

of color. That your accent

sharpened his tone

and your tremble forced me

to feel my whiteness viscerally

like the handle of the blade

I pushed into the dead bird’s breast

the night my father left me

out of shame.

Your heart-shaped uterus.

That you’d risk it.

How your body became a man’s house

you lit and let burn.

Then: indigenous grasses

brightening the ash. An emerald


That a body can work

and then not work.

The fact of someday,

this nothing-worse.

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