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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