Back to Issue Twenty.

when i say i love you, this is what i mean



Perhaps these words, too, will vanish.
The electricity will fail, memory cards
corrupt; the generators run down
and even the pages decompose
eventually, or burn. I am no Greek
kept alive in libraries or the minds
of curious men, these equations I write
not vital to our survival or progress.
My telomeres will weaken. I’m not immune
to age. And if I want it remembered
the way you asked my skin to sing for you
or how your scalp locks the scent
of Oregon, the lookout tower, the flames
just past the horizon, I can’t hold it
or make it stay no matter how clever
my pen, my fingers at keys. Your arms
will fade from knowing, the particular blue
hunger of you debauched in the confine
of colored ink. Somewhere, there’s a museum
of best mixes, azure, lapis, mummy
and ochre, lined on shelves in glass
vestibules, preserved for future study.
There are interns dusting each
collection, responsible for keeping
the markers in good repair. So if I am the servant
whittling time, only to have it
return out of knowing, if my body stains the air
and settles on cruets or seeps into rags
to become the perfect brown
dunes and their shadows, my innards
the crimson cloak on a worshipper,
if I am the pigment and the vessel,
why not blue? Why not the light
through the fogged air of that mountain,
why not memory engraved in something
stronger, a stone arrow to arms
that were and are and are good.


Kenzie Allen is a descendant of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin. She is a currently a first-year PhD in English at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, and she received her M.F.A from the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan. Kenzie’s work has appeared in NarrativeThe Iowa ReviewDrunken BoatBoston ReviewApogeeSOFTBLOW, and other venues, and she is the managing editor of the Anthropoid collective. She was born in West Texas, has lived in Norway and New York, and tumbleweeds around with frequency.

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