15/15 poem


Once I was six, or seven, and accepted a dare
from my uncle to crawl into the dryer. I later
got a beating for it, not because I had gone in
but because I had broken the dryer door upon
climbing out, in fear that my uncle would have
actually turned on the dryer and left me tumbling
in flame. Even now, when I think of you, I knew
nothing of the depth to which a child could feel
alone in the dark, though I was the same age as
all of you when you died, despite that even then
I had already learned how little your loved ones
can guard you from even the faintest imitations
of a devil. If he had actually left me in there, turned
the knob, pressed the button, listened to me tumble
and scream, maybe then I would understand the music
that followed you to the floor, in your classroom,
your teachers loyal guardians already gone. If I could
have bartered with God before that morning, had He
promised that a deal was eternal with pricked thumb
and trading of blood, I would have rewound myself
beyond every night when my chest leapt in some
séance of joy, before I’d ever found myself worth
lifting, sewing up and forgiving, I’d have rewound
to a quiet night in the dryer, the last hour of my life,
listened to my uncle’s footsteps fade, my vocal cords
unwilling, unable to betray a sound.


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