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Remembering, I Hazard a Guess

a portion of ocean walking
a tree is a portion of ocean
knifing into the sky
the small light speaking in tongues
after the body
wasting for return
of the council threshing
for the ocean salary of undoing
bales of photos mounted
on the wall
quiet paths
mounted on the wall
demand exceeding
the height of the silos
a balloon of ocean
walking
lying on the roof at night
tying leaves back from view

let me put it in terms you will understand:
a row of violets
your hand on the chopping block
they said she would understand the lack of spring
the drought in her garden
the juniper dust in her garden
the bay hurting
next to our skin

you always know him
but for the white coat
one eye will turn toward the referent
contracting into a tiny
pebble of glass
the air between the glass and liquid will churn
the air between the ground and sky will follow
you don’t understand
people who take this seriously
who die this way seriously
the forest is long
and full of noise

The injustice next to the restroom
where three separate mistresses
know each other in theory,
adopt affectations
of flowers and cigarettes, but
enjoy their skies blue
like many hopeful people.
Clouds drawn on walls
next to beds, by houseplants
from the grocery store, idling
by a tiger lamp and
soviet coasters. In a suit
a strong handshake,
harboring the tensions of
professionalism in cavities
of the body on the radio,
the voice disenchanted,
“Thank god,” they’d say
when the acoustics seemed
revelatory, when he
settles next to the record
player, covered in his
skin, maybe in the morning
after ordering whiskey,
“Neruda sucks” etched
on the bathroom wall
waiting for the fear to pass
to terrorize the pool table
pluck an image from
the beery air waiting
to know where we’ve
found ourselves, to
tell everyone the color
of their eyes, a hand
at the base of their kindness.

Alex Niemi lives in Russia. You can read some of her other writing and translations in Prelude,
Asymptote, Dusie, Banango Street, Action, Yes!, and other journals. Her translation from the French of
Vincent Tholomé's The John Cage Experiences is forthcoming from Autumn Hill Books.