Postcard III

While you walked the streets of a city

that couldn’t wake from hibernation,

stopped at every store window

and attempted to place the melting pieces

of your face back together, I crossed

a desert border into another winter,

where the sun, unable to remain

a metaphor against curtains of fog

and darkness, poured the remnants

of its halo across miles of half-shrouded

saguaro; each story-high cactus standing

like an unemployed scarecrow, and each

adorned with a myriad of doll heads

pried forcefully from their sockets.

Some were eyeless, some had frayed

ribbons strapped to their mouths

or temples, while those closer

to what I thought was the center

of this forest were hanging from

their ponytails, swaying nervously

against each other; the craters

in their androgynous faces humming

like wind pipes, picking up momentum

the more I personified the breeze

that played them, and the higher

I ascended the pathways speckled

with old sets of footprints, listening

as the dolls strung a tune I knew

I should have remembered, but couldn’t,

even as I staggered between the batches

of saguaro and collected them, even

as I pictured you—fatigued and shadowless—

rounding another street corner, unsure

what you should make of the city

when it took off its mask, laid bare

its empty buildings, its cathedrals

of scrap metal and trash, its highways

soldered with corroded barrels and cars,

and that same dawn I too witnessed

when the wounded glow revealed acres

of carcasses and carrion; how soothing

my feet felt against the flesh, how softly

the bones broke open, as though the marrow

had something to confess.

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