Matthew Mahaney is the author of The Plural Space (Salò Press, 2016), The Storm that Bears Your Name (The Cupboard, 2015), and Your Attraction to Sharp Machines (BatCat Press, 2013). He lives in Madison, Wisconsin.
A static shadow
The red fog of its sound
cups my ears in
a loving way, and an alphabet
The vibration this releases
breeds a hive
and my tongue
recalls the wasp
a machine resembles.
By exhaling in unison, we grew our breath in crystals. We blew a glass throat. Our vowels spread like static in the plural space. Their hollows twinned. Their ions echoed red. This was when we learned that the oxygen in snow can be used to summon speech. This was when we started sleeping in the memory room.
She coughs and I expect to hear
but instead there are bells.
Bells sweating rust.
Bells soaked in bloody wool.
Bells dripping honey down the back of my neck.
Another cough and I offer her the damp sleeve of my voice, but her speech has succumbed to the dust her lungs found.
Her cough grows opaque, the soft white smoke at the center of ice.
It is hard to stop
the tremors in her tongue.
Even before I begin listening to her lungs, for the wandering
song her dust-lungs lost, I know I won’t be able to find it.
I know I won’t remember the bells.