Only in the slow braid of a dream
can you study want and need, their
patience, their cruelty. Amid the thin
trunks of their campfires’ smoke,
I watched the hours shed
their polished armor, clean and
sheathe their blades, water their
stallions, refuse to leave the shore.
Always a shore, overcast, a sun
that offers me to climb inside its mouth,
and therefore cannot be trusted.
You’re asking to be taken apart
without the help of time, in the face
of its broken promise to keep
forward. I thought to give myself
to the dogs, but they only gnawed
my thighs. With the waves’ jade
coaxing, I heaved my every organ
through my mouth, then cut a mouth,
at last, in my abdomen and prayed
for there to be something more divine
than the body, and still something
more divine than that, for a torrent
of white flies to fly out of me,
anything, make me in the image
of the bullet. I begged, release me
from myself and I will end a life.
From I Know Your Kind (Milkweed Editions, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by William Brewer. Used with the permission of Milkweed Editions.