Volume 69, Number 1 · Fall 2019

[Her eyes were a rifle & I was standing]

Her eyes were a rifle & I was standing
in the way of the door, & finally when I
moved to let her go, the void she threw
open became a table, an emptiness born
to stand on its head. I ate supper there
every day, with forks & knives that had
to cut nothing into bread, with strays
that crept in to sniff the invention of my
hand, ask what my name was before this
all happened. Death entered, with mud
& rain helpless to ruin the polish on his
boots. With a jug of wine we toasted away
the love my life was not huge enough
to hold. Once he left, leaves & laughter
came in, branches of sound grew around me
like a forest, cicadas built a droning kingdom
with the random throats of toads. Swallows
one after another flew in to cake mud-nests
in my rafters, until cries for worms hatched
everywhere above me, & the only difference
between my pain & the world’s pain for me
was the door I could have closed.

Mike Soto’s debut book-length work of poetry, A Grave is Given Supper, will be published by Deep Vellum Books in summer 2020.