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bryce emley

because our blood is witness / because we arrive here strangers / and hungry / because my sister

wasn’t the son

                          our father wanted / she prayed / until her body ached / that it might remake itself /

only our mother

                             was strong enough / to contain our weakness / her weakness / was being too

strong / to leave / my father

                                                 only knew to make us / afraid of settling / into his architecture of

bones / like any father / doesn’t know

                                                              how his failures become ours / the myths / our failures build

us into /  how afraid I am of becoming him 

                                                                       how afraid I am / of knowing his loneliness / how much

of my love / is what someone else could do

                                                                          to me / the renditions we make / of our parents’ love  

/ the only wounds we can speak of / our mouths 

                                                                                   even our breaths are borrowed  

Bryce Emley is the author of the prose chapbooks A Brief Family History of Drowning (winner of the 2018 Sonder Press Chapbook Prize, forthcoming) and Smoke and Glass (Folded Word, 2018). He works in marketing at the University of New Mexico Press and is Poetry Editor of Raleigh Review. Read more at

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