Without Shadows

Jacqueline Winter Thomas

It takes five-hundred years for a language
to become unintelligible to itself; the husband’s
cupped hands leave no shadow on the mattress;
and a broken window keeps the cold even after
you whisper its name in another tongue.
What is marred at the inlet silent spreads
toward the center of the river. I promise:
this flows in only one direction. Suffering
cannot reach back. The red water touches every-
thing, but it does not return again. We must focus
on difference above similitude, says the scholar.
But we’re trying to find some first sense of love,
or loss, in the little room of the husband’s chest.
Outside rotten word, husband, laced with rivers.
We try to say I drown in your meaning, but
the surface freezes; the word, motionless.
Why cannot everything in the world
correspond? Why must some things exist
without their perfect shadows? Moon, inaccessible
seldom casts its mark on our face. The kind
of alone that lasts a whole life, like wood-
pecker whispering when the last light is out,
no more words for the tree. When the river
runs back, we will understand.

Jacqueline Winter Thomas is a contributing editor at Eratio, a postmodern poetry journal centered in Brooklyn, and an MFA candidate in poetry at UNC Wilmington where she teaches courses in creative writing. Her poems and papers have appeared and are forthcoming in Tinderbox, Eratio, Barrelhouse and Open House. She is interested in the convergence of poststructural poetics and semiotics.

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