The moon scrapes her face across the body
of the ambulance idling below—O little empire
of emergency, O altar of resuscitation: I kneel down in you
like I kneel my grief down in the dive bar—throat haloed
in administered kisses, mouth full of salt.
Or this is a grief that refuses to arouse
even a candle
of a name. So I do not offer one. I genuflect with the light.
And so what of the lawlessness
of these rescuers in white—wild west their tendencies of mercy
then none. Pistols blazing to observe who draws first.
Then the single bullet straight through my surrender-
raised hand. See how even the smallest hole still smokes.
I bring the mob that knows to light the monster
on fire & we do: the ambulance keening, the ambulance as ablaze as the virgin
mary’s heart. And so what if these are my marys
burning? Or that I meant to say
my mothers. My mother’s body disbursed
in flame. How a body is burned until gathered,
until it remains—. And O to be the curve of the ambulance’s bones,
its frame picked to glittering
in the parking lot. The birds now recircling—a moment blown
backward as if from a blast of electromagnetic waves. I strip
off our hospital gown and release it
out an open window. The ash ascends as a humiliation
of sparrows. I lay myself down in the afterflash
of the ambulance’s light. Wait for my temperature to rise.
For you to come press your wrist against my wrist
to see if my pulse is still
tucked inside. Over and over the ambulance shudders
like a shocked heart, revives.
Copyright © 2020 Cori A. Winrock
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Alice James Books.