Jess L. Bryant


Sidewalks carried me to the playhouse
where you showed
your ribbon-like tongue, lungs retracting.

Invited to sit, I wanted my body
to be like yours, our lineage monophyletic.

I retracted, tooth-like,
into abscess and apology,

Watched you write at night,
meditate on wood floors and become more,
with me at your door.

Others mistook intimacy
for idolization and pity,
for me

stripping down to watch you
dust and plate my bones.
Could you reconstruct our ancestry,
cast me as your brother,
the two of us, born boy?

I, the lesser one,
looking up: part-ash, part-remnant,
temporal and bloodlined elsewhere,

watching the breaking happen,
bodies piece and drift like petrified wood
on water-lined streets.

I left the city's edge to gather the thinning vestige
knowing next time we'd be synapamorphic.

But when work was done,
my hands were smooth and
better running. I grew into other fittings,
no need for pedigree.

Jess L. Bryant is an MFA candidate in poetry at Eastern Washington University. Her work has been published in Hobart, Star 82 Review, and Gravel, among others.

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