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Back to Life

[ excavation ]

the land    gives up   
femurs    we left behind

a past life     seized   
the attic   wincing

in morning sun    the croak
of bodies    unrelated

in a ziploc bag    the femur   
sweats    back


[ you were saying ]

I can’t help but work    the lighter
while you sleep    to passive tones

of public television    oil-based primer
oil-based primer    oil-based primer

is somehow    all anyone is thinking
the unpacked clocks tick    a person

ascending stairs    feeling is lost
in the hands    we spend hours trying

to will    objects into motion
sniffing a lock of hair    you eye

from the velvet wingback    the animal
shadow    go on test the light

with your hand in the air     trust
in matter’s habit    of obstruction   


[ light ]

having migrated    beetles rest
on the wall    the kitchen overhead

their hub    in shifts
they worship   the bulb

my ramekin    waits
to collect    the ones that fall


[ chronology ]

your loafers    caked in drywall mud   
I peel bark    from ancient studs

the walls are patched    but gypsum
dust stalls the vacuum cleaner    the smoke

detectors    I cradle a bar of the old
roughcoat     horsehair thrown

in wet lime    this hill before
the network pipeline    throbbed outside

our bedroom window   this hill before
stampede shook    loose the stone


[ the passive ]

like cats we avoid    each other   
the bathroom    a time share

has it really been    three weeks
since the plane    vanished

it’s    time for
a stranger    occupation


[ aerial ]

I ride    from one state   
into another    beneath the city

that binds them    I lose   
focus    the hemlock-

filtered halide carves    you   
from the dark    cathedral light   

caught in    my diamond   
on the red line    a patch of ice   

could flip me    reckless
from this    bridge  


Leia Darwish’s poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Copper Nickel, The Journal, PANK, The Pinch, Southern Indiana Review, and elsewhere. She is an MFA candidate in poetry at Virginia Commonwealth University and serves as associate editor emerita for Blackbird.