By Taylor Hamann
My body is a map of all the roads
you’ve traveled, the colors in my spine
converging. Before I learned how to love
you, I was war-stained. I was a land
of copper rivers, of paper riven at the corners.
But you render my lines in dusky ink;
you place a compass somewhere between
the pale coordinates of my shoulders, startling
my skin. Soon I settle—I find relief in my bones—
and each breath carves our way north.
I wanted to kiss you in a house
of clay pigeons. I wanted fingers
hooked on belt loops, poetry
stamped into collarbones.
It was the summer the dragonflies
died—they dropped like brass
shells of bullets, fragile wings
cradled in dust and sunlight.
Instead, we looked for God
under truck bed covers, in ferns
near the road, behind screen doors
closed by mosquito-bitten hands.
The Vietnam veteran who taught
you to shoot said bodies fray
like the edges of the lake.
They crack like clay. They end.
But I know God exists
here somewhere, even if you
have to pour a glass of whiskey
just to utter that hallelujah.
Taylor Hamann is currently an MLIS student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her poetry appears in The Monarch Review, Whiskey Island, Pirene’s Fountain, and elsewhere. She has presented her work at several conferences, including the Midwest Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference. She is also the co-founder and former editor-in-chief of Portage Magazine.