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Alyss

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Sugar water, ugly bird

            ( after Prince)

I punched a hole in the roof
to try and remember
                                          how to breathe.

And, keen on sound
                                          listened for voices
                                          to guide my lungs
                                          to repeat, repeat.

My heart is a record                     skipping,
             needle stuck in the wrong groove.

Or maybe          it’s a cassette jammed
in the deck     in a dash     in an old car.

We listen to that song forever.
Or I do.
                     That song with its broken rhythms
                     —that’s just how it is now.

And I look up        through my ceiling-hole, shingles falling
onto bloodied knuckles, stars overtaken by clouds dripping
rain onto my bed        and I wonder if this is what it feels like
to say no every minute of every day                if this is what it
feels like to let my pigeon wings get wet                  and stay wet
because there is no such thing as                                       shelter.

Rain is wet
and sugar is sweet
and, between you and me,
I am too tired to dance, to clap,
                                                              to look beyond those clouds.
                                                              maybe I need them. Maybe
                                                              I need this hole in the roof,
                                                              these broken fingers to
                                                              remember the flowers
                                                              the elephants

the miracles
of my own declaration
just yesterday.

I put my hands to my mouth and lick out the splinters.

It hurts.
Like my womb,
my hips, my eyes, my neck.

                                                              And tomorrow when I cry
                                                        in the shower I will
                                                  remember the hole
                                          in the roof in the sky
                             in the world and know
                     that rain is coming
             like sugar to wash
this all away.

E. Kristin Anderson