Riley Woods

SHADOW ON THE ORANGE GROVE

 

CG is a bell of flesh sinking naked into porcelain, hands shaky but sure
as he releases peroxide over his head to seek the cracks & gullies
running deep down his weathered surface. I am

floating above, a spirit hidden in the dust
caught by window light watching my grandfather
purify his broken body, pressing my pen to his skin

until it gives, genetics oozing from the wounds
& mixing w/ my ink. It reads:

his father and his father and his father and his father
and my father and me and your father and you

as it snakes toward the drain—my shadow, my story, my blood.
We wash it down; we lock our doors & let the tub fill;
we break the neck & lose the stopper; we marry at arm’s length

& stay there; we fight DNA w/ bitter drink; we walk through our veins
& emerge alone; we ritualize our hours to scratch the itch we cannot reach;
we love w/out ourselves; we leave w/out leaving; we pass this on,

we pass this on, we pass this on, we pass this on, we pass this on,
but we never stay.


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