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Love Poem in a Time of Ambulances

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.

from Little Envelope of Earth ConditionsFind more by Cori A. Winrock at the library

Copyright © 2020 Cori A. Winrock
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Alice James Books.

Published in Cori A. Winrock Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.