Two Poetry Pieces
If my youngest brother dies before me
Into an imaginary shoebox I fold my brother:
the sandwich with his name on it. The killing
rubberband. The twig his chest plays
fetch with. Gumball eyeballs plucked
off ice-creamed men. Marbles to dwarf. A picture
of his eyes of my eyes of my mother’s eyes.
The wooden replica of a wooden replica
of a buggy. His best spelling test. Shadow
puppets for the sake of hands. Shoelaces for the sake
of trip. Kings knifed from playing cards. Acronyms.
Photos to throw darts at. Toothpick people.
Woodchips. The screwdriver everyone loses
to the junk drawer. D-Battery. But no shoes.
I’m looking for something to tie around my finger. I call my local
string man to set up the appointment. “There’s several options,”
he says. So we meet. He lays it all out for me. Cheese-cutting wire. The leash
of a balloon. A cobweb. He unlocks an ancient violin from his shadow-
box. Plucks the strings right off it. “Catgut string,” he says. “Back then,
it was cattle that taught us to sing from the gut.” What else you got?
Fake eyelashes. A split rosary. Shreds of string cheese?
Again with the cheese. Give me something stronger. Factory-built
doll hair. A bullet belt. A bungee cord. Out-of-service powerline. Nothing calls out.
I’m about to leave, my finger naked. But he says, “Wait.” From underneath the counter,
“Chordae tendineae.” Pardon? “Heart strings,” he says.
“Most difficult to harvest outside the Poem.” He opens
up the box, lets me at them. Yes, I say, yes. Remind me of my flesh.
Keep me from breathing myself apart.
About the Author: Rachel Janis holds a BA from Knox College and lives above a coffee shop in Galesburg, Illinois. Her work has also appeared in Booth.