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Breath & Shadow

Spring 2021 - Vol. 18, Issue 2

"On Falling"

written by

Despy Boutris

I am always sure

                    that the world is ending.

          And I’m always searching

my body for wounds,

                              always sure

                    that everything is dying,

that this gull

                    plunging toward the sea

          is like me, determined

to die by falling

                              once it knows its time

has come. Only it doesn’t

          die. Look! You point

toward the bird

                    as it comes up

                              for air, wings flapping,

some sort of fish caught

                                        in its craw.

How much flying

          looks like falling. How much

                              I’d love to die

from falling, just to fly

                              a few thousand feet

                    first. Just to make an imprint

on this earth,

                    just to leave

          my mark. And we’re sitting

side by side

                    on the remote bench

                              along the bluffs,

our naked knees

          tucked into our chests.

                    We watch the sun sink

its teeth into the sea,

                              watch the sky turn

          twilit. I’m all terror,

                    but I don’t want to drown

anymore. I want

                    to find a word

                              for the way I want

          you. Your hand

intertwines with mine

          and you’re a force of gravity.

And the sky above

                              is striped with strips

                    of coral and cobalt

blue. Like the bruise

          on my knee

                    from falling last week,

from tripping over my own feet

          that refuse to face forward.

                    We sit in silence

          for a while,

                                        hear the hum

of the tide, peer

          out at the waves.

                    Above us, the sky’s pocked

          with stars. You

gaze up at the wide-

                              eyed moon, titanic

despite its outward spiral.

          Look at that, you

breathe. I’ve never seen it

                    so bright. But I’m looking

          at the way

the moonlight gleams

                              in your eyes.

Despy Boutris's writing has been published or is forthcoming in American Poetry Review, American Literary Review, Southern Indiana Review, Copper Nickel, Colorado Review, The Adroit Journal, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. Currently, she teaches at the University of Houston, works as Assistant Poetry Editor for Gulf Coast, and serves as Editor-in-Chief of The West Review.

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