The 2River View 20.2 (Winter 2016)

Hannah Bessinger

How We Deal With It

At 2:00 a.m. I am still
awake. Because,
my bed is empty, because
my computer screen flashes
the news that two
were killed, dozens injured
in another shooting, in another
theater, but this one, closer
to my home. Closer to
you. And all                                                                                                                   
of this happened, while I sat
outside on my porch, my phone
clutched tightly in my fingers,
waiting, for you to drop
my heart into the ocean
with your words, waiting
for it to grow eyes in the brackish
water like a deep sea fish,
who grows so used
to the dark      
he expects it,
adapts to the small
ache behind his scales
each time he swims
through shipwrecks,
through the bones
of long-dead sailors,
seaweed streaming
from their skulls.

Letter in July

The hot rain beats
against the bricks of my
house. It runs down
dirty. The women walk
by sticky and ripe
as newly knifed peaches,
dresses clinging to their skin
like damp napkins.
They are everywhere. Their voices
clatter into misplayed cadences.
Last night, when the worst
heat had lifted,
I went dancing just to feel
the bodies of strangers. The sheets
of skin that felt nothing like you.
There were waves of it, smooth
and smelling of cheap perfume
and cheaper wine.
All day, the buildings heave
out smoke. I have taken up
walking and counting
my steps. I have memorized
the name of each
street and the cracks
in the pavement. My bed
stays made until morning.

Hannah Bessinger holds an MFA in poetry from North Carolina State University. Her work has appeared in These Fragile Lilacs, THRUSH Poetry Journal, and The Southern Poetry Anthology Volume V: Georgia. contact

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