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Remember what we used to know: the owl perched in the barn rafters with a kitten dangling from its beak, the summers so dry that the wheat withered underfoot as we walked through the field with ice-cream-coated hands. I remember the day you went crazy with fever and took a hatchet to the hives in the apiary. You stood in the swarm and shouted, “I am the Lord God of all creation!” before your father ran in and cradled you to the house. That night, the doctor dipped bandages in honey and wrapped your welted limbs, while your father read to you from Aesop’s Fables. You opened your mouth and let the doctor reach in with pliers, let him pull one bee after another from under your swollen tongue, and let him hold each corpse—glistened with spit—up to the windowpane, before dropping it in a jar at your bedside. You carried that jar with you always, half-filled with their dried bodies, like kernels of corn. On the last night of summer, we fell asleep in the hayloft. In your dream, you whispered, wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead. In the morning, the jar was empty, and our eyes were the color of nectar.

from Litany for the CityFind it in the library

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Published in Poems Ryan Teitman

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