Mile Marker 17

We broke bread for the boys in closer counties,
the ones who flew from the beds of pickup trucks
into the railing of no-named highways, who hung
like ornaments from the branches once they stopped
tumbling from treetops. We barely knew their names
before we chanted them over and over from our knees
into the invisible air, into our pillows so that we wouldn't
dream of toothpick bodies, pine needles piercing
the black sky with their red tips. We touched the shoulders
of their mothers from our church pews, we drank His blood
and asked that if we ever wished for death, it be forgiven,
or at least forgotten. We crushed the wafers with our teeth
and imagined their bones crumbling to dust from the flames
of the furnace, the tiny box that comes after—how could it
truly hold a whole body? We drove passed the well
one of the boys had fished us out of years earlier, the abandoned
house one of his legs fell through the floorboard, the hole
like a hungry mouth, the mouth full of jagged teeth. We'll
keep driving down roads they snaked across hot
with whiskey, scrape our fingers in the grooves of brick
buildings they etched their names into with pocket-
knives and nails. We'll see ourselves in the mirror
of our stagnant ponds, flying then falling into the open
arms of those unforgiving trees, hoping to hold us close,
asking us not make a sound.

Heather Cox edits Ghost Ocean Magazine and the chapbook press Tree Light Books. Heather's work has appeared or is forthcoming in PANK, Mid-American Review (Editors' Choice, 2012 Fineline Competition), Used Furniture Review, Columbia Poetry Review, Toad Suck Review, DIALOGIST, and elsewhere. Heather's poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and her chapbook Dream Seller was a 2012 Strange Machine Books finalist. Heather lives in Chicago with her partner (who is perfect) and their two dogs (who are bonkers). She blogs at www.looklookhere.tumblr.com (heather.cox.903@gmail.com)

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761