by Irène P. Mathieu
the people who were killed, the people who died
this week drifted from the branches and were swept into piles
into which the children threw themselves.
when the air gets colder
inevitably my thoughts turn to reproduction.
it is easier to slice a cell open than to divide it.
sometimes I imagine long-dead people reassembling / rehydrating / suddenly alive again.
for instance my grandfather.
as a child I feared spontaneous combustion. as an adult I constantly feel flammable.
my body is easy to crumple and light as a leaf.
the page offers fuel. my gathering anxiety
an aphrodisiac. could I teach my future children
how to be anything other than at war?
there is so much lying in wait on our stoops, behind the flowerpots,
according to our neurons.
I still jump back when the spider who lives on my front porch
scuttles away from my fingers reaching for the door handle.
she and I spend all day trying not to think about our deaths.
behind my sternum, a rope tightens.
Irène P. Mathieu is a pediatrician, writer, and public health researcher. She is the author of Grand Marronage (Switchback Books, 2019), which was selected as Editor’s Choice for the Gatewood Prize and runner-up for the Cave Canem/Northwestern book prize; orogeny (Trembling Pillow Press, 2017), which won the Bob Kaufman Book Prize; and chapbook the galaxy of origins (dancing girl press, 2014). Irène is a book reviewer for Muzzle Magazine and an editor for the Journal of General Internal Medicine‘s humanities section. A member of the Jack Jones Literary Arts speakers' bureau, she has received fellowships from Fulbright and Callaloo.