2022 Issue  >  Poetry  >  Timeline for a Body

Abstract 3.jpg
Artwork by
Jesse Lee Kercheval

Timeline for a Body

Matt Mutiva

I stood in the middle of the street, too drunk

while cars swerved around me, thinking 

about what  J. Robert Oppenhiemer had said

after he created the nuclear bomb

and smoke was curling downward

around the edges of one man’s idea

 

I realized I had no cell service

and there were no safe distances 

for one to observe death

I saw the drawings of a phoenix

in waves of intense heat 

that were lifted into the stratosphere

 

But I, too, had assembled the last piece

of an explosive chain reaction

and I held this pose for as long as I could

and closed my eyes to assume this multi-armed form

only to be remade

I suppose a countdown to zero takes place

My hair was unrestrained, my body was youthful

and it took away that fear of dying 

 

An explosion blew my eardrums 

and I recognized the presence

that had called me to surrender 

and knocked me down from both sides

Matt Mutiva is a regular guy who writes what he can when he can. And when he can't, he writes anyway. If he's lucky, they'll call it poetry.

 Jesse Lee Kercheval is a writer, translator, and graphic artist. Her recent books include the short story collection Underground Women and  La crisis es el cuerpo, a bilingual edition of her poetry, translated by Ezequiel Zaidenwerg, published in Argentina by Editorial Bajo la luna. Her recent graphic narratives, comics and art have appeared in Waxwing, The Quarantine Public Library, On the Seawall, Sweet Lit, and New Letters.