You always want it to make sense,
Like knucklebones, like how swallowing works.
Simple eye of mechanics developed
Over millions of years of failure. Humans
Are the success of their failure time and time again.
That’s whats truly alien. Truly unnatural
As the sky opens up, the black roll of stars, planets –
Some like necks on the gallows, some like an arena stage.
The maw is the medicine with death as a common side effect.
Then, nothing makes sense. Its a fugue state, lips dripping
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Words over delayed relays. Mission specialists
Still sitting in Ohio struck mud like American-made pigs,
while you snort down wildlife powder and hope the TOG adaptions
They gave you don’t go liquid in your stomach. Survival
Rates of surgery in orbit aren’t what they used to be.
You, your own scalpel and organ donor, doctor, and lawyer.
I said my goodbyes, turned back to the shore, stopped trying to find you. It took me awhile, took me a few more pink striped skies, a few more mountains, a few more years. But I found my way, wrested my skin from yours, saved myself from going under. I talk to you still, the way we always talked, close and deep without platitudes or pretense. You know I have forgiven you for all the ways you almost took me with you. You didn’t mean to, never meant for me to get swept into your undertow. You tried to stop it but I was desperate for a reason to fade away.
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Ray Ball is a writer and history professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage. When not in the classroom or the archives of Europe and Latin America, she enjoys running marathons, hiking, reading, and spending time with her spouse Mark and beagle Bailey. Her poems have appeared in journals such as Alaska Women Speak, Foliate Oak, and NatureWriting. Cancer […]
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Khaen is a writer and science educator. Since earning her doctorate in molecular phylogenetics, she has worked as human anatomy and physiology teaching faculty. Her book of poetry, The Bone Collectors, is unpublished. She lives in Ames, Iowa with her husband and their two children. Ethan From the Hebrew name אֵיתָן (‘Eitan) meaning strong or […]
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