home, unaccompanied

Photo by Rosie Lopolito

By Rosie Lopolito

Home, Unaccompanied

After Monica Youn

Gravedigger’s clothes should be splattered
with cemeteries’ grey-green soil to signal

loyalty to the dead, and likewise
this gangrene jumpsuit needs a shroud,

dusty embrace from a dryad, blossoming
into decay. Cover me, clay crackles,

unweighted, unscented, and free
from the miasma of mud out here—

this dirt is not clean but cursed: the bones know
the skin left them for the silver-flecked

starlings to pick at instead. Sharp and cold
in the studio, the air smells heavy, sick,

sweet outside, benzene and grape
vapor. Film sticks to exposed skin,

exposed peach strips, gory
orange smear on the horizon,

oozing eye half-shut squinting
wishing she could peel off this

dirty scab, and today maybe I wish
she would, too. I am

the voyeur here looking down
upon my own puppet

legs jerking on loose strings across
a sidewalk strewn with Fritos

bags. it only takes one
to be embarrassed

to be alive and I am
one and both. This is the problem:

I don’t know if I’m alive
unless I’m seen and touched:

Insert Schrodinger on
solitude. I am a liminal space

into a liminal space,

a blackhole,
a tightrope

stretching from point A
to you, and I fear I will die

if I veer off that shred of existence.
Is this what being alone is?

Three men in polo shirts leave the
church and cross the street and

I am yanked from within
myself. Grounded by footsteps

not my own, I breathe.
My chest unzips over

the sternum to let whistling air floss
ugly grimacing teeth clamped

around tight lungs and I wonder
if they are why I can’t catch a fulfilling

breath. I didn’t realize this takes so much
longer alone, after waiting like a fool,

but how could I have known
we got out early
just got home


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