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The Bloomery

Melissa Barrett

A queue outside the wrought iron but I’m pushed
through because of my barrette and clasped shoes,
my laugh which means my sex. I sink into a pitch
of shadow, quiet as a closed drawer—what could be
a graveyard, an examination, the tips of a child’s fingers
pitched into prayer, each step pleading dimness.
A low oven straps the center of an unwalled room
and a fire split at its center, lapping the dark
with the sound of things passing: knives in air,
I orbit, I orbit, I repent on well-lotioned knees,
this bed crackling rubicund. I notice such things:
banister spindles and the paved gaping

of an empty street, a stoplight rocking dense
with the wind. Even columns of words—

they shake, rearrange themselves and I remember
your fingers, how you wanted me open, right then

then and there—how I wanted it, too: to be over,
done, once and for all—Honestly, that pale pink burden

that rode at the front of my brain every time I rolled
toward you: Show me, I said, and meant to say again

but lay lazy and drunk with someone else:
eyes to the ceiling, wondering if he left the light on

because he wanted to watch. I was a good woman.
I was drunk. I thought, This is it, as he turned a trowel

to the smelt and drug a body from the fire.
The bloom was slouched, knobbled, porous—

The hammered divorce of iron from dross
and I recall your hands: how they let everything in.

Melissa Barrett

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