KEITH MONTESANO


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
TO THE MUSES

The Florida weather was balmy, and you would imagine

        they leapt from the bridge like Olympians,

curled into something beautiful from a train whistle blaring

        before cars crashed, before the boy who was ahead

looked down at the still water, then up at the slow-motion

        crushed steel, the terrible wheels squealing, all of it too fast

before it was over. We want to believe More Love spray-painted

        on the rusted bridge is something God wrote,

that three teenage girls would have a chance to experience

        everything in their futures. I can’t help but wonder if a flash

from a camera caught the sun, accidentally, a ball of light

        spiraling into the blue: batteries splashed, rusted, sinking

into the deepest part of the river. The news shows the boy

        running hands through blond hair, tears streaming,

turning away after the camera zooms toward his face.

        The man interviewed says he will never sleep again:

it was first a blanket, then a punching bag spewing white stuffing

        into the air. Accident: sparks catch gasoline, a train car

erupts in flame, drinks tossed, windows busted, everyone

        escaping into water below. Burglary: wires crossed,

two trains speeding at each other, colliding, passengers slammed

        into doors. Bumps, bruises, broken bones. And that would be it:

the story we hope to hear, cheating death, nature, or attempted

        murder. The man says he will never sleep again. The sound

of the wheels was someone screaming directly into his ears.
 
 
 
 
EAR TO THE DOOR

Footsteps, running water in a sink, mumbled words, then fists
        on a door in their apartment: a back room, as his hands bust

                through cheap wood. You’re at work, it’s morning, and I need

to prepare for everything. But I’m across the small hallway now,
        listening, knowing she can open the door to run out, find me

                crouched, my ear making no sense of the sounds. We hear them

all the time, their routine of fighting, our regret upon moving in—
        the thinnest walls we’ve ever known. Sometimes a lamp, picture frame—

                always glass, ceramic, crystal—the beautiful ring of collision

and soft plummet to carpet below. The vacuum runs
        constantly, and we never know how it’s still working. Then the door

                breaking. She moves toward me as I dive across, into our own,

and close the door. I’ve missed a meeting already. The world won’t wait
        for me. We’ve only seen them in passing, a glance after the outside door

                closes—on their way to work, and never together. And we

never will. The afternoon passed. There’s clean-up. A Will,
        we think, and when you get home I try to explain. No longer

                do I have responsibility. I couldn’t leave then. I couldn’t help.
 
 
 
 



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