Reasons We Should Keep Burning

Not only for the boat, but also
for the water beneath it swirling with oil,
for the tiny stove, and the convertible bed.

Not only for the bridge that stretches
across the marsh, but also for the path
that disappears when the tide comes in,

and the tiny snails left when it recedes.
You are studying insects, and I
am studying the way the human body

heals itself: contusion, stretched tendon. Cicatrix.
Thousands of years ago the articular bone
of our jaws shrank and became our ears.

Say bioluminescence, I hear sunset, ocean,
jellyfish. You explain it is the chemical
reaction that causes fireflies to light. They can't

help it. I do not need to know how our lungs
work. It hurts to breathe but we keep doing it
anyway. Beneath a scab will always be fresh

skin. Let astronomers explain black holes
and the reason for the stars. Let marine biologists
analyze anemone and the shape of the shoreline.

Erosion is inarguable but people don't stop
building houses. I will not tell you how
our jaws hinge together, only that I will

open mine again and again to say
your name. And you should not tell
me that fireflies have compound eyes

that allow them to see fast-moving objects,
only that their crepuscular lights will guide us
when there are no other beams. Not only

for our lungs, our jaws, our tendons, our toes.
Not only for the stays, the buoys, the attempt
to ballast. Not only because we can't help it.

Hannah Oberman-Breindel has been published in Prick of the Spindle, Stirring, the Comstock Review, Crab Creek Review and elsewhere. She was born in New York City, and currently lives in Madison where she is an MFA candidate at the University of Wisconsin. She also serves as the poetry editor of Devil's Lake. (ObermanBrein@wisc.edu)

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761