luma / lauren – Isaura Ren

Everyone you loved refused to die in this town
before they died in this town.
—Hieu Minh Nguyen, “Outbound”

This town is a terminus. At the end
of the line is a dot, not an arrow. In the end

you don’t read the map. Nothing kills us
but time. No natural predators. Our bodies, still

beautiful, go slack then stiffen. Then what.
I won’t accept the metal in your neck. It can’t be

so it isn’t. The day we skipped to smoke on the hill
I didn’t. I only went for you. Had we stayed

in class, we may have learned how the body
decomposes after death. How the earth

softens its gifts before it swallows. How veins
like subways clot and rust as they, too, grow

forgotten. I remember it all. Your hair a shock
of copper against the silvergrass. The wind

rippling them both. Us sitting, backs turned
to the past. I didn’t know him, the man

who’d take your life. He wasn’t in the picture
yet. When you raised an arm to capture

us, your camera jammed. You cursed it,
smacked plastic with a palm, then the sharp edge

of a rock. Something broke within. That shutter,
throat of little blades, never opened again.

The last train leaves the station on schedule.
The tunnel doesn’t close until it does.

Isaura Ren (she/they) is the Editor-in-Chief of perhappened mag, and the author of interlucent (2020). Their poems are featured or forthcoming in After the Pause, Okay Donkey, and elsewhere. Twitter: @isaurarenwrites.

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