I tried to answer my first wife
that, yes, she is selfish
and that this is good:
Less wear, Few wounds, No rind where ought be ‘life.’
But she gnashed and wailed,
her Protestant iceberg atremble,
and I curled back my words
with the bad faith of the midway lover.
We’d matched tattoos—
still do, I’d think:
Black ink ampersands,
near or on our hands.
Hers: a neat-cut, print-stamp glyph.
Mine: a ligature, an ancient, ob-scure thing.
Two-tier semiosis of conjunction +
Absolute disjunction of the form =
Relation that can only sink.
I found her, years later, as public words across a screen.
I searched in fragments, for that which stabs the eye:
It spoke of strangers passing one another by
—strangers with matching tattoos.
My fearful gut wailed “me.”
But wrong—it was all she:
Regenerating cells, and mirrors, and an inexorable becoming,
becoming ever more herself,
obscuring ancient bodies,
cutting, neat-wise, the ligatures of I.
And, on or near my hands:
the stink of two-tier selfishness.
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Dr. Lorenz Pöschl
(he, him) is an English teacher and researcher from Aotearoa/New Zealand. His work touches on Colonialism, Public Pedagogy, National Memory, and Intimacy. As a childhood immigrant from Germany, Lorenz writes to think about strangeness in a settler-colonial territory. Platforms where his work has appeared include: Shotglass Journal, Journal of New Zealand Literature, Tarot, and Landfall. This photo was taken on the occasion of Lorenz’s second marriage.