Sublimation (Dissection II)

By Zeynep Uzumcu

At night, I pass this threshold, these bargain kilims, the winter boots salted and snowed.
Again our hearth, among brick apartments splayed above a smoky river.

We lay in our bed, and you cannot help but smell the pollution of my task.
It is braided to my hair. Imagine Odysseus plunging back to this world after parting the smoke,
parsing the plumes of Charon for knowledge. To return to Penelope,
and would she not detect the faint smell absorbed to his skin?

I walk across a courtyard, steaming with fallen snow, the dawn birds calling to each other with the animal joy.
They are as strange to me as the man open on the table, whose life is written plainly in vessels,
from gold filling to brambled liver. The overgrown heart, the tortuous veins.

I learn him well, first patient, patient teacher. I come before him
as I would to sightless Tereisias divulging to the living.
Or is he Elpenor asking for the rest I cannot give? He tarries in the cold room.
We are far from Kirke, far from the orange dawn breaking over the hill, the long grass matted with frost.
Here is but a ship’s oar marking his place on the earth.

He lies here even now. Envies the sparrows, and envies the snow,
the ease with which it falls and subsumes itself to smoke.

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