from Enumeration of Colonies
by Ellen Baxt
I flew high above the earth’s surface, crossing the equator twice. The sadness was unspeakable, not the swirling facts, but the uniforms and the chukchukchuk above our beds when we were sleeping. There were floodlights and we felt funny taking our clothes off even though the blinds were drawn. We didn’t go against the uniforms and the new policies. We were very obedient this year. We protested the war, all the cynics and all the believers, and those who were too hopeful to be cynics and too honest to be believers. We were colder than we had ever been so we went into a pub on the sidelines. There was a lot of whiskey and color coding on TV. We were ashamed and our necks were stiff.
2002 was hard to breathe. If you see something. We saw a lot. Less graffiti and more condos. More mirrored glass and less brick. Empty stoops. On Prince Street, a sonic billboard that uses your head as a speaker saying, “Who’s there? Is someone there?” developed by the military. Our bags could be searched at any moment. We saw our Yemeni student say he wanted to study aeronautics but came back the next day saying he changed his mind with a stiff face. We saw him practicing cursive in the corner, loops and dotted lines with his head down.
Pointing to spots of fur on his arms
a boy asks if I have many friends
I thought Aunt Fay's liver spots were
countries or chocolate
Her hand was the right temperature for breathing
Yes, I have friends
Stamps, a calling card, propane tank
Dorothy’s fever is hot in my hands