Stephanie Guo – Poem

the brief and wondrous death of jeremiah tompkins

they found him crouched
under a cardboard box
at the intersection of twitch
& lynch. he was sweating softly
when they took him in, having just
swallowed his tongue
whole.

it was a bright and thirsty
afternoon. his silvered hair
caught in our eyes. he
was fluid and spoke softly
when jaunted side to side
by the boys, yessuh,
and the horses, yes’m,
and the wives.

the tree was thronged
by eva’s twelve grandmothers
and my three sons
and the sun’s slivered proximity.
i grabbed my youngest, addam,
and said, nowlookaway –

he didn’t kick
as the noose tightened.
on the way up
he gazed at us
as if
we
were the gnarled woods
that fed into the fairy spring
and
the constellation of freckles
dotting his lover’s cheek
and
the sister he’d left
needling her way
through blanched postcards
and war rations
and stiffened script
when he went up

north. he looked at us
as if we
had been the ones
lying
under a cardboard box
at the intersection of twitch
& lynch: saliva congealing:
pockets rustling: a sweet

and fumbling acrid: heavy:
on our lips:

(in the corners of my eyes,
i make out
the hunched posture
of my retching son)

why: he looked at us
until he couldn’t:

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