Tourniquet

Tara Skurtu

1. Would This Were
Would this were the weary
quiet of a medicated nap.

Would I could watch the insides
of eyelids while sleeping,

my world blind as a bundle
of thirsty cells. Would this were

just a slick round head
almost crowning, puzzle pieces

of skull shifting to mold
a temporary slick oblong head,

easier to pass through me.

2. Middle Seat
In the middle of Oleander
Avenue, a stabbed man cries out

in Spanish, and Amber and Thomas,
on either side of me in the back

of the station wagon, stare out
the window and watch Dad tear off

the arm of his favorite blue sweater
to tourniquet the bleeding man’s arm

while I look down at two
pebbles on the carpet.

3. Prophecy
An ordinary day, the day I turned ten,
until, standing on a stepstool in the living room,

my mother’s sewing customer looked up
from the pinned cuffs of her slacks and said

I’d be two digits for the rest of my life.

4. 4:38 AM
Before I was born, the midwife’s assistant
fainted. You knelt before the mattress

on the floor, and I fell
into your cupped hands.

I don’t remember seeing you first: but I did.

5. Name
Last night it was different. I was in a helicopter,
strapped next to someone I didn’t know enough to love.

We were helicoptering together one moment,
then spiraling into a loose funnel, about to crash.

We crashed. I didn’t know whether or not I was dead,
so I walked to your house to see if you could see me.

You could, but you called me by a different name.

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