by Sarah Varnam

I’m reminded of the space between atoms
when I open my mouth and taste curdled words.
I breathe the silence out, thick as thoughts.

My grandmother asks my father,
Who are the people who work in your mouth? We lament forgetfulness.
She can’t recall the word for the red that runs through us;
she’s remembering
less and less of what hurts her.

I feel heartbeats with my fingers and contemplate
my preserved possessions. I wonder what good it does me
—keeping for whose sake? My archive’s a sarcophagus.
I fill it with strange organs—a child’s canopic teacup,
a flower-patterned jar of dried blood and hair.

What to do with these distances,
between the abstract buzzing in one brain and another,
between this active tense, the past, and the impossible future perfect?

I feel heartbeats with my fingers, knowing they will stop for you, for me.
I feel your pulse with my fingers and breathe in time with thebeat.

— from Juniper Volume 2, Issue 1