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Ten Kernels of Corn Float in the Water Bowl

Julia Cohen & Mathias Svalina

Your brother scurries outside to check
on the silver hair under the porch. You soak
your fingers in the aluminum sink

only to find that the barn slats bend beneath you,
how the bones of a dead bat spread.

In the glass of the baler your skin looks
like a sunken engine. When you try
to be more than human will your brother worry

or applaud. The backyard builds
a sand castle from corn meal. Down the rows
of red clay your dry fingertips rustle

like owls in the conifers. You bring the night
& let your brother add the breaks for water.
You're the deepest well that ever clipped the grass.

Night is the barn molding over with sheep's milk.
Night is your father folding into an unmade bed.
Night is the only hour you cannot see the cornfield.

Bring your pail closer to me. Bring it under
your chin so the hose nuzzles your neck.
A nozzle to keep you clean when daylight cannot.

Knuckle-bones in the metal cup
rattle the corrugated roof.

Hold the ghost-glass up to the rows of clay
so that you see your reflection in the fall
of feathers, the humid prize of sunrise.

You tip the water bowl over & your brother
spills out. Tell yourself you’ve made it this far.

Julia Cohen & Mathias Svalina

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