Rosemarie Dombrowski
from The Book of Emergencies

Like you, I don’t remember the one who retrieved the rag,
began scrubbing the floor with Clorox
like a wearied janitor, grumbling about
the anatomy of boys.
When you bleed, you remove your shoes
like appendages, the shards of ceramic
surrounding you like a dolmen,
the wind and the nearby cows
droning an ancient language.
Somewhere, someone is applying pressure
with butterfly wings, and the chambers of the heart
are pumping in quarter time.
After midnight, the towel is stained
with the history of silence,
and my hand is clutching bone,
balancing a synthetic tube that
connects us like roots.  Together,
we inhale the contents of the bucket:
the uncertainty of sterile solution,
of anomalies,
of the genetics of love.
Even the arches of recycled water
couldn’t stop you—
your cumbersome feet
slamming into chrome parts,
everything struggling to master the
dynamics of sight and space.
At this stage, your palms have begun to sweat,
and you cling to my forearm and thigh,
reminiscent of some love
that we thought we’d forgotten.
You scream, and I mimic the sound again and again,
inserting your name into the weighty atmosphere.
When you crane your head to find me,
I weave a net with my eyes.
I pause to consider the magic of tightrope walkers,
who, like you,
speak another language.