Fall 2005




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Challenge Prompt

Steven Shea

Small fingers, that I could snap inside my squeezing,
wrap half asleep inside a nap around a trust
that I won’t, and that I will not, not be here
when his hopes re-open to the burn of wooden blades
chopping tar-black water. From shore, I watch
this boy, my boy, rowing. Row fast. No,
faster, past the edge of the weeds, past the end of
the world after. Shamefully, these pleas go
unborn, thoughts coughing, choking on dirt,
their lives bought and aborted before ever seeing
their birth as words. I told her, I wanted her
to get an abortion. Row faster, out across
the awful. I didn’t mean it. The moon is dead,
the dark ate the stars, and I hate my hate that is their
replacement. From shore, I hear your oars
shoveling, pouring coal over coal, over and
under your quilt you rest. Baby’s breath and squishy
pink flesh rests beneath little boy hairs peeking
at their maker, the taker of time, the giver,
the whittler of wood, shaving, splintering
slivers into your virgin skin. I am
the snake, slithering across on scales, unbalanced,
tongue split, licking at your fingers. Row fast.

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