The Unaccounted

Philip Schaefer

Say we slept like effigies on a stranger’s lawn.
          Sideways to the boats roping in, saltwater
                    lapping the land so thick we could slick it
          through our hair. Say children surrounded us
with wooden knives and smoke bombs,
          their jeans as putrid as the corner ponds
                    they were born in. Their teeth loose
          gravel, a new language for ruin or roll
over. Say a day before, a returned soldier
          drove into the woods and made out
                    with his shotgun. Skull a split piñata,
          a fist of sun unraveling. For now let’s say
the black Lab in the truck isn’t panting, stuck
          to leather, radio on. This isn’t about us.
                    Everyone in town is drinking brown fire
          to forget someone they read about
in the paper. Someone no one knew
          well enough. Here it is always almost
                    summer. A beach of women probing their legs
          through water like herons. Teenagers staring,
pretending their eyes are tanning oil. Say we are
          old stone castles. That when the drawbridge drops
                    the moat disappears like a name fingered on a window.

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