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The Mayor Rips His Daughter's Quilt into a Cave

Julia Cohen & Mathias Svalina

not far from the tree-house. Sawdust falls from glass branches
& digs nests in the cave's side. Your brother crawls in
& folds his feet into the gathered bodies of dead mice.

We cut the atlas in two & watch the West shrivel
into a mouse's head. Just before sundown we take the lamp-oil
to the abandoned mattress factory & set fire to the dried flowers
we discovered beneath the mayor's old Cadillac.

Goodnight cracked pages of the atlas, papering our barn walls.
Goodnight soft spider & the stitches it makes. Goodnight,
your face is more than human in lake-light,
more than I can humanly bear.

Let the signal from the AM radio whisper its undertow
to the snakes. When you stop breathing your last words
are farther from the factory. They follow the telephones wire
back to you. Tin of fish eggs gelling on the porch. Your little strand

of horsetail knots your ankle & trails back to the cave. The mayor
is busy looking for scissors & his daughter's twisting the radio dial.
I will be here when a restless pile of wine-soaked rags wipes

the sawdust from your eye. There is music in the mayday cave
& through holes in the stone, you’ll watch spiders leaping
towards the porch. But your brother won’t, he’s the whistle
in your teeth when the atlas fades.

Julia Cohen & Mathias Svalina

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