Black Arrows from the Golden Bow

by Erik Amundsen

To a weary mind, you might say
this voice was the softness of a bed
on sore muscles, a grace, a generosity.
And who could blame you, to fear
no sirens in the dry places, where
oceans are but echoes in white sand
and sun ivory. Dry, you might think,
but also drunk, a grace, a
generosity that kills, this one,
a guilt too hot and close, pillows
that crowd around the mouth and nose.
But you were too small to fight it
too tired to wake, the tarry black tide
of sleep drags back on your bodies,
pulls you down, the ribs swing closed
like prison doors and the breastbone
is a lock that accepts no key.
And who could blame him, I think, to fear
no warriors among the girls; Achilles
put on women’s garb, but there was

no softness on that body;
he couldn’t have suspected that time
would change so much.
And you and he are both injured
when it comes my time to intervene,
with a quiver full of black arrows
for a golden bow, I close the eyes
and place the shot, I draw my lot,
a vow that he will live just long enough
to cry an new ocean in which for you
to live, and time to let the breath
from the corral of my lungs, stop
the hoofbeat of my own heart,
silence this ghost of mine; release.

Taken broadly, Erik Amundsen has had an interesting life; he’s been a baker, an itinerant schoolteacher, worked for two governments and gotten in bar fights overseas.  He now lives at the foot of a cemetery in central Connecticut where he writes nasty little stories and poems that shuffle around in the night when he’s not looking. Or at least he hopes it’s them; something’s got to be making those noises and it’s not the furnace.

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