Construction Literary Magazine

Fall 2020

More of Us; In the Forest of the Forest of the Forest; Tort of Outrage

More of Us; In the Forest of the Forest of the Forest; Tort of Outrage
Photograph via Flickr by Kate Ter Haar
More of Us

I was adjusting to the legibility of bodies to say Arab,
two solitary syllables that cleave

to creation, which is made of miracle
and history, that say dark and darker.

At first all I heard were instruments broken
though a tape loop, and wind blown

to the corners of the annex, but then our naked
grammars came free and endless as salt

to each other. A hundred songs. We fingered
crisp phyllo and the burden of double hyphens

that connected the sphere
of our names. Together with the other

histories, we hung unequal halves
of our old complaints on our contrasts.

When the days were behind us, I remembered
the remaining eight jugs

of black sweetened coffee, the yellow pads, the cobalt
drum and those few evenings we dared pretend

what we’d thought or who we were
could be forgiven. A room of gritty voices,

twilight through the beads
of another pomegranate, a few savage

sentences. The text of conversation on cotton.
Those days to siege lies and statistics,

to sit in the butter of culture
and see nothing coming. Then to return to the world

with its sudden inevitable wringing
deep flights of anger.

In the Forest of the Forest of the Forest

Woman carrying a body, skin-seamed.
What fixes this in my mind is the absence
of hope that fell from her shoulders that day.
And the anatomy of a city of women
not bragging our winces and hips but meaning
each truth of dark and each basket
of power and obvious lonely.
There, there. Of course we know blood
and breathing are landscape
until the normal nation throws together some other
machinery for us and since
our sense of the world splits, my heartbeat
again. Because a body is courage,
a grimaced body even a grimaced
one while we have it. And we shoulder it,
the limbs and temperature and our sorts
of nests: torn open and flung.

Tort of Outrage

Alongside another chaotic gunshot and quadrant
of havoc, the media plop down
a discussion of dead fish
on the False River. This seems to be code
for a new way to believe in complete
darkness. What do we worry about
next? The sun seeps out, silent
in its distraction. We’ve been so obsessed
these months, everyone stark
with angst. The trains praise
their sockets, an insistence on clanging
into the future. I turn toward brick
firmly stacked after a park
lacking all trees. Fit my realities
to a drawer in an unlocked
room. Every day, more forsaken
answers. I read of the sway of crude
oil and the many jasmine revolutions, and I slip
to bathe my hope in tranquil
emollient. How often we experience
the average—maybe victor occasionally
in birch light. “Friends” take each
volatility, subsist on spells cast
by other computers. We are all fidgeting
names fielding phone calls. Now the sky
is gray, grievous. I flick off devices and still
know another woman is captive
in a backyard container. She inches the chain
at her neck. The images are more
than I can manage. We are raging
to the oath of what we hold
against our teeth, the wound we find
infinitely open, our mutable shame.