Sunday, December 8, 2019

Object Permanence by Alison C. Rollins

Object Permanence

For the time being
an ampersand is a boy
clutching his knees
to his chest as art.
On high, the god of form
wears a face on each wrist.
Only a god can take and give
time, but the one in front of
the gun lasts forever.
The boy is parenthesis,
his shoulders curved,
the huddled wings of a bird.
The boy’s arms are too short
to box with god. He breaks down-
beats of sweat in his sleep.
If life is music, the rest is noise,
this earth a museum of dead boys
walking. The god has a finger to
his lips. He wakes to the boy
taking selfies with The Scream.
The boy knows a picture
will only last longer.
Frequent warnings read
Storage Almost Full across his
screen so self-portraits he
outsources to the cloud.
As I Lay Dying sits in his book
bag. The page dog-eared that has
the line: My mother is a fish.
Right now
the comma
is a lobe.
From afar the god clutches
his head, in an effort
to cover missing ears.
The redbone boy was airborne.
As we speak, he bleeds in the street.
The backpack has landed as parachute.
The god yowls watercolors,
the way the sky weeps
oranges in lung-shaped
segments of grief:
quarter, half, a whole.
A bullet is a form of punctuation.
From a distance it appears
the boy is fucking up commas.
Roger that.
The god of variables — a-
bridged & for-
lorn, dribbles mercy
on the mother of
the slain.
The boy’s headphones skip
down the sidewalk in the hands
of another mother’s child.
The skeletal god’s got bars.
A rib cage full of tally marks
collection plates in memory
of chicken-scratched bones.
The writing on god’s wall
was formerly known as art.
The boy’s chest has become
a focal point. It rests in
his mother’s arms, a still life painting.
The god is MIA.
The boy’s mother repeats her prayers
again, & again, & again, & again, & again.
Repetition leads to the longing for a god,
for a sound as signal, for the absence of a note
or limb. Think of the bo(d)y as con artist.
The boy’s mother knows a period is
something missed. She knows objects
can disappear behind a god’s back
but that doesn’t mean they are gone forever.
She holds the boy’s cracked
phone in her hands, as if it were
the whole world.
A boy is what he leaves behind.
What a mother struggles to forget
her muscles store as memory.

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