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In Which the Earth Splits Under Our Feet


All day the city readied for the snowstorm;
plows lined the corners of the parks, salt was thrown.
They cancelled the postal service, closed the schools—
kitchens stocked in milk and batteries,

the city was a closed organism, shut down,
and we would be caught in its damages.
All winter I've taught myself languages and music,
studied opposite words in opposite languages

collected arias in snow globes. This city is about
nothing at all—not the tall buildings or soaked corners.
Along the ocean, even the boardwalk understood the brief
credos, how one ruin should not hold all the failed

synchronisms. Across the street he sat at the table
again, head in hands—not that I would ever know him.
Across the country, he rented a car and drove himself
and gun into the woods—not that I would ever know him.

How long could we remain deliberate rib cages,
inconsolable at the bitten world that keeps us.
At this time, the most unrecognizable shadow has become
my own. I sat at bars. We sat at bars. We followed the weather.

We took light breaths with hope that the totality of winter
we carried inside would fade quickly outside.
I've looked for the right words to say the right things
to the landscape of split ranches and swing sets, two cars

buried in snow. A simple apology wasn't enough.
And then the cities we thought we would own,
to speak of their winters is to speak of the glove
that is meant to go missing, thrown salt.

Suitcases to the door, gun to teeth—
as a letter from one who loves the other—
what do we care for, facing fracture
the very bone-scrap leverage of the earth undone.


Florencia Varela

The Malahat Review

Winter 2011


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