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October 10, 2020 / barton smock

[non a.m.]

Glacial, this spiritual panic. But also, sudden. The bluest of left fields. I know the order of the last three deaths I was near and I know the order I put them in. I am up most nights either sick or wondering why I am not. Circa 1995 I was driving Gen home, it was late, and a cop pulled me over for a dim license plate light and he made us describe to him what we were wearing while he shook his flashlight as if fire had discovered him and had kneeled. It took some time to get home that night. Time, long as nakedness. As a kid I cried for years after hearing of the soul but really it was about this one toy I wanted to take to heaven. And now I have these four children who can cry backward. Who can die. Who can be secretly sad but even moreso secretly happy. Poetry knows we only learn to read once, and doesn’t know that there’s nothing younger than sleep. My hand has been a handful of hospital snow.

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