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History


Fearsome in his superhero sneakers, Jonah rides.
The light in the right shoe isn't working; the left one
signals when he pedals. Down the sidewalk, crazy
with an after-dinner joy, he shouts and twitches on his seat,
snapping his helmet-hidden head one way and then another,
shadowed on by early leaves and clouds he won't remember:

Perfect. Up the driveway, with the wind disordering
the neighbor's tall white pines, he parks his bike and goes inside,
the dancer-conqueror, and downs a slice of watermelon, red part
and a bit of crisp white rind. Later, during pre-bed rituals,
I hold his small electric body in my iffy hands,
coaxing on his socks and two-piece PJs, loving him.

At length his light winks out, and then the others, and the distance
in the darkened earth grows farther. Sometimes only dreams
can reach us where we lie. Opened in the silenced house
like books, our bodies fill with brilliant likenesses: the father dead
almost a year, the dark-haired friend who in this version
doesn't turn on you, the sad-eyed emissary from the mountain.

On the porch, the landlord's vine grows bitter on its lattice,
and the poison stars, exploding in their traces, cluster in the west.
Is there any fended ground in all the earth? When Genghis Khan
invaded Helmand, helmet-headed riders sowed the fields with salt.
They've found archaic scallop shells on peaks in Appalachia.
Foxes quit the bulldozed acres built with model houses.

Patient in the night wind, the white pines wait for us
to not be here again.


Jonathan Weinert

Harvard Review

Number 44


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