so it can be towed in the morning if symptoms compound
overnight. I’m thinking of gut-shot cowboys aligning
their legs so they’ll stay coffin straight. I’m thinking of wills

and plots and isn’t it enough that we’ll be defunct
Forever? Sandbags by the latent river. Baby,
I’m not good at preparing for demise. I often struggle
to prepare for the day, having materialized in bed

the night before, short of breath, ready to dream
of high school track meets, spikes in the blocks, eyes
locked on the delinquent starter pistol. In the morning,
a tired drizzle of participant’s ribbons. Jugs

of vitamins. And I’m all for longevity—
I’m all for finding out what happens
to everybody else, for more pomegranates, more pockets
of sweetness within the pith—but trying to last reminds me

we won’t, the simplest of facts that sleeps
past the shores of language. I say ―tangerine
and by that I mean the smooth of skin where
your neck and shoulder join drives back death
and makes death’s prospect intolerable. 

For a stable sense of wonder amid sadness
and confusion, imagine a dark bruise of violet
here, and in its middle, a blue pyramid.

Joseph Gross received an MFA from Western Michigan University. His work has appeared recently in Alaska Quarterly Review, Fourth Genre, Mid-American Review, Salamander, and others. He teaches and writes in Kalamazoo, MI.

This story sprang from a couple of short, random phrases I was given as prompts. It grew on that trellis, in maybe an hour from start to finish. Its world felt so familiar, though it was actually completely new and foreign to me.



Copyright 2009