Julie Rouse received her MFA from the University of Montana and now lives in Iowa with fellow poet, BJ Soloy. Publications include Columbia Poetry Review, Denver Quarterly, and Pallaksch. Pallaksch. Her chapbook, Boy, is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press.
Now that I’ve returned from a very difficult place
I want congratulations all the time. I make do
throwing myself parties with banners like:
CONGRATULATIONS. Death ray, you point at me
only a promise of warmth that I’d often take
without this continual rain of confetti I’ve rigged.
I want a quiet life with occasional migraines
shimmering the edges. After my first death
the whole world appeared as though sleeping,
all my neighbors and friends falling gently down
onto couches and floors and sidewalks
under a cloud of anesthetizing gas. I moved
among them, caressing a face here, a hand there.
For once unafraid of touching, untouched
in return, I tried on everyone’s clothes and slept
in many beds because I was everyone’s sister.
Even my sister’s.
I have said I always wanted to be a twin,
cup my mouth over an identical one and blow
knowing the exact path the air takes or
cut my twin’s hair badly or occasionally
hold her hand over a flame and say you know
I know how it feels to burn. Little sisterly flame,
perhaps there is a god and perhaps we
can make him very small and together
smother him. The sound of an animal dying,
a solitary woodland animal. The sound of bare
feet running on packed ground. I have said
many things. The words fly from my mouth
circle overhead once, twice, three times
before leaving to scour the night
for fleet sustenance.