Varieties of Internal Torment
Under the linden, a weatherworn bench. Eleven wooden slats in all to build a simple thing for sitting. The one still generating green, shawled in August sunlight, hovers over the one chainsawed and hauled to the lumberyard. Each time it was split, sawdust leapt. The bench was built. Years passed and now a pair of students sit together. One has something impossible to say without hurting the other. Hunched, bent from the burden of it, while the sun continues to spangle the linden, green flame after green flame, their faces dappled in leaf-shadow. He knows he must confess, how to hammer the sentences with enough nails spiking out from compressed lips. It will be over soon, his hesitation marked by how red the stripes behind her thighs.
Copyright © 2017 David Hernandez. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in The Southern Review, Summer 2017.