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After Roger Reeves’s “Cymothoa Exigua”

The tongue as a debut ribbon
to slice and applaud: to lose
consciousness & wake up indoors:
when the smell of cooked chicken
creeps into your nose, & teeth remember
what it means to chew: to make the mouth
a gulley for the first pale stranger
who cradles your head & says, drink:
when the glistening neck of his canteen
prods your pink lips, & words you’ve never heard
raid in: when the names of the room’s dead
fill your throat, & bedloads of migrants
cover their children’s mouths each time
they knock: when loose threads of tongue fall
on your stubby fingers, & soon you unravel
how you arrived here: to mourn the Jordans
hung on telephone wires, the muscle memories
of a coupe that stopped mid-street, a tinted face
lowers the glass curtain, & suddenly your pick-up
game’s one man short: to still hear his jump shot:
when the court chuckled as his elbows locked in,
& 21’s just a game, never an age reached:
when the pale stranger invites his neighbors,
how they marvel at your mouth’s archaeology:
when wives paw its rot, decide to form book clubs
around your grief: when a smile lurks
in the corner of your jaw, as they proclaim you
their latest myth.