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BREATH MEMORY [BREATH ALPHABET] by Cory Hutchinson-Reuss

Zero degrees again. Midwest winters confuse loving with not leaving. Yes we are made of drifts. Yes we are made of degrees on a map of discontent. [Aluminum breath, breath of absence and alchemy, Breath of blood history, breath of aromatic bitters]

Zero degrees again. Midwest winters confuse loving with not leaving.
Yes we are made of drifts. Yes we are made of degrees on a map of discontent.

[Aluminum breath, breath of absence and alchemy,
Breath of blood history, breath of aromatic bitters]

Example: I left my home full of salt and chrome and church manners. Moved away,
where I willed the memory of glaciers to silt me downriver again.

[Calamine breath, cypress breath and
Dogwood, devil’s food, breath of divinity with almonds]

Vacant hills of snow: fugue season, no permits given.
Under each fallow mound I idle and thaw.  GOODY’S BODY SHOP:  PAINT  REPAIRS  PARTS

[Engine breath and exoskeleton, eiderdown, breath of
Folly, fork in the road, breath of sod]

They swim up in the sun, the sleepers, the root-fish,
sow rain into beds,      they evaporate.

[Grass breath, breath of foam, breath of paper fans,
Hickory breath, hymnals, breath of leather, breath of sorghum]

Rivulet the dark with what do I remember: stop for an ache,
quarry-side: peer into its deep gunmetal eye:   hello, loaded chamber.

[Ingot breath, salt lick breath, breath of tails, revivals,
Jam breath, cherries jubilee, gin breath of bathhouse row]

Pews lined end-to-end with legs like piano keys break into rafts
or into song. They glide and steam.     PINE BLUFF ARSENAL   EXIT 2 MILES   CLOSED

[Katydid breath and kudzu, breath of cashmere, breath of rope,
Lotus breath, bobcat laugh, breath of lone oak]

No one told me not to:            I yelled down backwaters that echo.
Mud face named, catfish alien, puppy-hushed. What did swim up.

[Mimosa tree breath and mattress, breath of windowsill,
Nickel, new roads, breath of soffit and tornado]

Lampshade sun:           loaded barrel chest:     mountains
knuckle the sky. The river                   cracked slate and chalk.

[Oxbow breath, breath of okra, peach orchard and pine,
Phantom breath and pantomime, breath of empty frames]

Jesus of Billboards and Hearts’ Doors. KING BISCUIT TIME. My
itinerant bridge of blue mud and mosquitoes, interstate of homeless lights.

[Quake radius breath, breath of quotients and remainders,
Ridgeback and breath of rice fields, breath of accents]

Hunger-nested, I swarm, I hive,          in fault lines, in
golden meat, on the backs of wild boar, in the rough of diamonds.

[Skull-shine breath, salt lick, breath of kiln and locust,
Terrace breath, breath of taffy, tree swing breath of currents]

Ferry across the lake to the island with the cliffs. Let turkey vultures
eat the gift of my violence.

[Undertow breath, caliper breath, breath of sieve and cleaver,
Velvet breath, breath of grease, breath of fire]

Darlin’, what’ll ya have?                  Fingers licked clean.
Can you pay for what you’ve taken?           Not even close.

[Wire breath, wolf breath, breath of state lines,
Xiphoid breath of bone tongue, breath of shoal]

By what shore my hands have emptied me.     No pennies
and no receipts.           At what tables I swam and fed.

[Yam breath, breath of butter, breath of yoke, breath of yawl,
Zodiac breath, zenith, breath of weather, teeth, and grammar]

 

 

Issue 6 Contents                                       NEXT: The Landlord by Peace Adzo Medie

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About Cory Hutchinson-Reuss

Cory Hutchinson-Reuss
Cory Hutchinson-Reuss grew up in Arkansas, holds a PhD in English from the University of Iowa, and currently resides in Iowa City. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Pinch, Cold Mountain Review, Cave Wall, Drunken Boat, Ruminate, and A Narrow Fellow.