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the marriages: the remains
gemma cooper-novack

I married your fingers twice   three

times   four times        until I could

have been shaped


entirely by your palms            I bound myself to

tailored trousers hanging from

your hairpin hips      I held


the footprints along trails where you’d had

to hide every piece of property

under roof and snow               I married


you and married you and married you

kitten               heartbeat              jaguar

how could it possibly


ever have stopped

when you were gone

and gone and gone and gone


I married you and married you and married you and then I looked 

for you                scouring street corners                     the bomb

shelter door                 the train station         the faded


scrubland camps ravaged with barbed wire

I embraced you eternally already

jaguar              coffee on my tongue


and I looked for you               even though

you were everywhere you were only

real in the dark


under bombs               immaterial

under streetlight-streaked stillness and still

I married you even


when I lined my throat

with pills like bathroom tile

even when I married him


you were iridescent in wallpaper

the crook of my thigh

sweet               jaguar              mine

I was yours forever on snowdamp train tracks

to the black forest between camps and with knees

on black ash turned earth I tried


to explain it all to bones

tangled with other bones

under roots and snow and snow


so many other bones             what

made me think yours

could even hear me

Gemma Cooper-Novack’s debut poetry collection We Might As Well Be Underwater, a finalist for the Central New York Book Award, was published by Unsolicited Press in 2017. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in more than twenty journals, including Glass, Midway Journal, and Lambda’s Poetry Spotlight, and been nominated for multiple Pushcart Prizes and Best of the Net Awards. Her plays have been produced in Chicago, Boston, and New York. Gemma was a runner-up for the 2016 James Jones First Novel Fellowship; she has been awarded artist’s residencies from Catalonia to Virginia and a grant from the Barbara Deming Fund. She is a doctoral candidate in Literacy Education at Syracuse University.

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