Please pardon our appearance while we build MMM online, Vol. XI, 2014
, featuring works from the forthcoming Vol. XI print issue. The archived MMM online is here.

 

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Fortunes of war

          Kelly Sullivan

Cannot write dear. Cannot call
You anything, like Zebra Finches, the language
Stops when we are not in view. I take you
In dreams, your fingers here
Where you said, this is not and where you said
But this. The house burns every night
And you come into me, safe against
The heat, bodies like skin vessels, treated
And watertight. Morning I remember
The Knight’s law, that your Lord
Could have me first if he pleased and that
This means nothing when the birds
Are separate, thin corkboard between their cages,
Beaks closed against breasts. Is not.


Once I owned more of you,
Gold fillings, gold watch,
Wanted only what was valued. this is not
Shame, barbarity. The finches
Imitate each sound, a scent
Of skin, ourselves the vessels
Of our crimes. They do not know
Domestication. Sixty years will not
Teach a bird a hand.


I waited for his teeth
To meet my breasts,
His hands to grip my ankles. Your Lord
Never came. Is this your last
Language, the corkboard
His absence from a bridal bed?
The birds become civilized, call only
In the fever of dream.

 


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