We Walked Into Our Mass Graves, Not Watching

Michael Thomas Cooper

the crickets as they danced on the floor among our bare feet: their tulle veils lifted to wed the cold.

He saw his allies going nowhere, so he rose to his feet—out behind the railyard—and struck out at the boxcars, boxcars, boxcars, tagging his name on them and every electronic eye he could reach, made every metal rib or oculus his own.

To wed the cold: first give the skin of ice off our faces, then our crystal bones, the infinite flex of our muscles squeezing our blood in the vein, finally the stillness of our lungs and heart.

Your allies lived in the same body, along with every other living soul.

To wed the cold: we stood still as the absent water table beneath our feet, sinking city of our bloodless, unchiseled thoughts, the nothing.

Your allies stood to be counted and went as dismissed as the elderly you hid away in your nursing homes, or the mental health patients we displayed for public humiliation on our streets.

To wed the cold forget all activity and make no move to return, leave the salt to the sea and the fields to the fire we used to raze them.

These were your allies, salt and fear.

To wed the cold to we the poor—become the house of no house, the person of no person: think only for the short-term from your Dias of corrugated cardboard—be the body of no body—with no center for the vortex to wring from us this endless

shivering. They were your allies.

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