Because I’ve seen the way a body
looks preserved, I turned away
from you. That’s the most
that I could do. Distance, dear,
makes the heart grow weary.
The scene where I’m your citizen,
but am touching myself inside
a stranger’s apartment as, in Yemen,
an American drone kills 14 at
a wedding, mistakenly. Mistakenly,
I chose the hydrangea, whose large pink
blush has been said to match the size
of a sender’s heart. When not pruned
properly, the flowers sag, begin
to break. Once, you fed me heart
on a skewer. After, I read the animal
would be inside me forever,
idea that made me sick for days.
Now, my autoerotic display,
while, in Yemen, vehicles still
are smoking. Distance makes easy
unmanning the hands. I hasten
to compare the scene where
I’m such a terror in that dress,
where the flowers are all a mess,
and I’m gussied up. I’m turned on
by men I’ve never met. What a wedding
photographer, as anyone poses
candid for the drone. But, no, I’m
only posing for myself, in the mirror.
Because I’ve seen the cadaver lab.
I’ve held the brain and know
you could make a curtain of the small
intestine, that the cerebellum
resembles the pressed fossil,
a coniferous needle cluster. That
the heart is not so after all
impressive. Though it is heavy.
I don’t know what it is to be a target
for someone other than myself.
Just that twinning the body
with another doesn’t put on pause
the old atrocities, love, all our
ceremonies ruined. Sown with salt.
Copyright © Corey Van Landingham
Used with the permission of the author
on behalf of Poetry Northwest.