Iterations of the Body

It’s late and I am trying to tell you the only story
I would know in the dark, of the man I remember now

not for his face, which does not exist and perhaps
never did, but for his hands that were only hands when

I needed them most. Memory left for years on
a turntable until the act itself becomes a deconstruction,

each once-strung rotation unlacing itself into
the fishtank. You did, of course, account for the current.

Found the place where it arrested over stone and deposits
of silt, where the tide receded back over mud.

And it was there we were stood when I could finally
say it out loud, could tell you about the precipice we were

always going to arrive at and how, resigned, you would bare
your throat to the sky. The sun does not shine today,

but I am sure you can imagine its warmth. Its fingers
on your cheek, on these bodies we cannot unlearn

further. These are the small assurances I have
to offer you now.

So, as anyone might have done, as you were, likely,
born to do, you began to cry. The rain fell

and multiplied. Through the haze, I swear I watched you
fall to the ground to pray, hands pressed

to the same ruined earth that begot you. I blinked. I ran
metallic. I spat a mouthful of silver into the water,

its winking granules pulled again into turbulence,
and startled, despite myself. Blamed the night and the heat

and the heat of blood, somehow, none of it mine.
When the rain finally stopped, I called the river

by its name in a language I once hailed as my own
and carried home my hands in the still-warm

cavity of your chest.

Nikki Velletri.jpg

Nikki Velletri is a high school junior from Massachusetts. Her work has been recognized in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and can be found in Kingdoms in the Wild and  L'Ephemere Review, among others.