Aracelis Girmay

Kingdom Animalia

When I get the call about my brother,

I’m on a stopped train leaving town

& the news packs into me like freight,

though it’s him on the other end

now, saying finefine


Forfeit my eyes, I want to turn away

from the blood on the floor of his house

& how it got there Monday,

but my one heart falls

like a sad, fat persimmon

dropped by the hand of the Turczyn’s old tree.


& that chainsaw girl, six rows behind me,

with her chainsaw laugh.

I want to go back there & close her mouth with my hands.


I want to sleep. I do not want to sleep. See.


One day, not today, not now, we will be gone

from this earth where we know the gladiolas.

My brother, this noise,

some love [you] I loved

with all my brain, & breath,

will be gone; I’ve been told, today, to consider this

as I ride the long tracks out & dream so good


I see a plant in the window of the house

my brother shares with his love, their shoes. & there

he is, asleep in bed

with this same woman whose long skin

covers all of her bones, in a city called Oakland

& their dreams hang above them

a little like a chandelier

& their teeth flash in the night, oh, body.


Oh, body, be held now by whom you love.

Whole years will be spent, underneath these impossible stars,

when dirt’s the only animal who will sleep with you

& touch you with

its mouth.