In her dreams, there were always two: a hand to each hand, the girls’ bodies mirrored they slice the tips of their fingers on thorns and press. To be so tethered. An issue of red, the wiry vines their father pares down from the garage walls. From the ribs they were not born of. But still, they know the boys are watching from behind the water tower, their bicycle tires rubbed smooth and thin, so hungry to know this palmistry, to hear how even the dunegrass rustles its approval.
I saw the girl golden-shouldered against a grey tear of sand, beyond that, more dunegrass, a dry lakebed, the sea. Another rail-line, the wildlife preserve. Sand glinted off her slick fingers as she twisted the rotary dial at the gas station’s Bell Atlantic number number zero operator pulse. No one answered. She pulled for her quarter in the payphone’s steel mouth & I knew I could not give her what she wanted. This town festering like a rat in a rattlesnake’s gut.
We give up so much to machinery. The science of guns and glass. For years, all we’ve had is the untruth: these spinning plates, revolving doors. Our bodies like broken symmetries. After the radiation, your eyes died away. Bottle green and grey. You won’t look. You just hold your breath at the end of the driveway, complain about the heat. The coyotes pick at our garbage bins every night. I hear their paws on the asphalt, their breath at the threshold. These windows like alamogordo glass. Admit it, the structure is gone. You have played god and won. A disordered magnet still attracts. Every night, we draw sand into ourselves and rain nuclear waste. We harden and cool. Say atomic. Say bomb.
Audrey Walls is the author of a chapbook, Cyanosis (Dancing Girl Press, 2016). Her poetry has recently found homes in H_NGM_N, Meridian, Permafrost, and Quarterly West. She lives in Richmond, Virginia, where she serves as poetry editor of failbetter.