Poem: Before the bombs & the fallout

Our love, when it comes back, comes in the shape
of a rusted car with the wheels hanging off,
an engine that still starts & swallows dust
but only after the fourth try.

When our love comes back, it’s a swarm
of bees in both my ears & your ears,
in both my throat & your throat, our two
heads swollen finally with forgiveness,
so much that all we have left
to do is watch. & touch.

Our love comes back in the middle
of the night like an old abandoned factory
on the edge of town—how I should’ve been
scared of the dark, but I wasn’t; how we could’ve
walked past, but we didn’t; how nothing
in the building worked, but some of the machinery
was still there; how your laughter filled
a room we couldn’t see the end of;
how the dust made everything look like
a war had just blown in through the windows;
how we looked for blood & bodies & found neither;
how you touched me gently, in celebration of this:
         of the broken windows swollen with dust,
         of the bees stuck in all our old gears,
         of the rusted engine that does not work, but is still there.

When it comes back, our love bites your shoulder,
becomes the moonlight, thankful
the war has ended & we still have both
our hands. Our love feels around in the dust
for the levers it still remembers,
wants to know what it felt like before the bombs
& the fallout, before our bones became
lost people looking for a new place to call home.

Jacqui Germain is a St. Louis-based poet and freelance writer, with work appearing in several literary journals, anthologies and media outlets. She is the author of “When the Ghosts Come Ashore,” published in 2016 through Button Poetry/Exploding Pinecone Press, and has received fellowships from Callaloo, the Poetry Foundation’s Emerging Poets Incubator and Jack Jones Literary Arts. Read more of Jacqui’s work with ALIVE and GUIDED Magazines.

This poem was originally published is ALIVE Magazine Issue Three 2018. Purchase a copy or subscribe to ALIVE at alivemag.com/subscribe.

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