Tema StaufferCross Street, Hudson, New York, 2016 (photograph)

And too often, I count each loss like teeth tumbling
out of my mouth, rattled by the roar of every heavy
body, all the things we can somehow keep: the siren
call, carcass in the gutter, woman crying in her car, how far
these fields reach towards empty streets. I want to be
pressed against your neck, spine unclenched. Some
nights, I ride my bike across town, and learn leaving, and learn to
hold. And the stars sway and catch on my bicycle chain, and darkness
vines between houses, over roads, while windows fill
with light its lovers coming home to flick their fingers
on switches and spines. Some things are small enough
to carry, like the hum of your mouth, the hum
of my tires on cement, and my cold breath opening
and closing the doors of my lungs so carefully.


Emily Alexander