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Poetry by Keegan Gore

Learning how to swim

When you get a chance
please reply to the email
I sent you last week in which
I confessed that I had feelings
for your sister the whole time
we were friends and at the
lakehouse almost a decade ago
I stared at her maybe a little
too long as she emerged
from the water draped over
her face like a veil of glass
I cut my lip on the coke can we
used as a pipe that night the blood
dried on my fingers
I slept on the couch
and wanted so badly
to tell her she was pretty
not like a supermodel or anything
but like the shiny part
of a shucked oyster shell she had
freckles everywhere even on the
soles of her feet I saw them while
we were letting the sun dry us
on the dock and they say
you never completely
learn how to swim
every time you re-enter the lake
you have to remember all over again
tread the water until
you no longer have to
actively think about
moving your arms and legs and
did she really leave behind the whole family
and tie the knot with that guy from Carroll County
way out in the boonies
I wonder if she is the same
or different and how have you changed
we left our connection cold like
an unfinished meal you’d feed to your dog
could you feel I wanted to know
more about her than you
or did my face give me away
you were always so shy you never
took your shirt off whenever we swam but
in the bathroom you’d hang it above
the shower and at night I’d hear
it drip and on the way back
home you were mostly silent even
though we teased you for not
talking you just watched the road
run beside us with one hand on your chin
after highschool I heard you spent some time
backpacking the blue ridge by yourself
once I had a dream that
you and I were out in the woods
together and you lent me your knife
we stayed in the same tent mosquitos
buzzing and biting at our
wrists and ankles and
your sister was pretty the way
the rain from a thunderstorm
cleans the streets and
washes the trash down the gutters or
the way after you wake up and the
air is wet and it is hot and the spiders
have to spin their webs again
the best part is learning that under
the water you can be whoever you want
time is slower down there
would you believe me if I told you that
I think about that week all the time
it just surfaces
like when I’m walking
to work or something
I remember it all over again
and you don’t have to reply
some long drawn out message
just tell me you got it
that you read the email
and that you understand
that’s all I want
you don’t have to say anything either
I’m not trying to apologize
all I need is for you
to let me know that you
know now.

Shopping List

I need:

Thrash from the river’s flowing, from the soft edge of the water bent like light over the wet rocks.

Trash from my lungs dissected, where they found: greened pennies, crumpled yellow paper, a rusted razor blade, last months front cover of the New Yorker, a finch’s nest made out of sticks and leaves inside an empty Ben and Jerry’s Netflix and Chilled ice cream pint.

I also need:

Plastic from yesterday’s freeze dried salmon.

Dimes for the pregnant lady sleeping in her car in the Whole Foods parking lot.

Froth from the mouth of the ocean.

A collect call from a psychic who tells me every Tuesday that I will die young.

Milk from the concrete floor, already dried.

The moon from a blurry Youtube video, shot by a Syrian refugee living in North Carolina.

Oh (!) and if they have any, please pick up:

Frog eggs not yet fertilized.

A glass eye found on the train tracks by a child.

A .wav file of your voice recorded by my answering machine.

An oblong glass container filled with crocodile tears that reads break in case of emergency.”

My estranged uncle’s love distilled into vapor to inhale every morning before work.

The King James Bible.

Marx’s Theory of Alienation by István Mészáros as a graphic novel found on the side of the street wet and swollen with rain, the color of the images bleeding off the page.

Blackberries.

But don’t forget:

A manual or pamphlet that will tell me exactly how to live (please) completely with diagrams on everything from how to get dressed and change the oil in my car, to how to tell my lover I no longer love them, to how to lift this unbearable weight of memory off my mind.

Three catalytic converters that have been stolen by a gang of teenage runaways living under the bridge.

Stones (from the Virgina Woolf’s overcoat).

Muscle cut from the hind of a cow.

Or sunlight in your palms.

Or

anything

you can

carry.

Or

nothing at all

but

yourself.

Keegan Gore

IG: @kleegangorb

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