2 August 2006 | Vol. 6, No. 2

Elegy for What Survives Inside the Body

July 2005

Guilt unraveling to its end, but there's no such metaphor…

friends drunk on vacation, pink dusk and alcohol clouding

everything in sight. New boyfriend, and a life, for once, in order.

Suddenly she's bawling, tells the entire story, like you do

when your world is unfamiliar, the hazy bodies lost in black.

It takes six years for the pieces to make themselves apparent,

age twenty-two—ending relationship after relationship,

remote sun, sand, gunmetal sky and night closing in.

September 2004

The flatness of Canton, Ohio: she wishes for hills, a jutting

of something. Cocaine in a vial, unbalanced, spilling

into her lap. Doing close to 100, she spots the lights

behind her, faintly hears the sirens above the blasted rap.

That was before the charges, the days in jail, make-up

rendering her face to feigned. On the cot, she thinks

of the murky quarry, where naked, and years before,

they'd open backpacks of beer and drink in the stars,

limitless words, bodies crawling toward home at dawn.

July 1999

Practicing divers slip through the dark waters of Jaquay Quarry.

One spots a gleam of white waving toward him

from the bottom. Unable to pull it up at first, he swims down

again, cradling a gym bag in his arms before resting it

on nearby rocks. The group gathers by the bag, opens it,

wet suits dripping rings around the baby's body.

March 1999

They're both bundled up. The bag is zipped, weighted with rocks.

No speaking or prayers—just awe and thoughts of the future.

May 1998

The county fair's blurred, white lights are not in the recesses

of memory, for they will remember the swings,

the fogged lens, the wind nearly jarring it out of his hand.

And their free hands holding each other's, winding around

and around, as if such force will pull each body

into some other world devoid of flash and colored bulbs.

And they will keep in mind the slow weightlessness

of the Ferris Wheel, the camera's own circles building

toward and repelling off the ground, pointed at their eyes,

kissing, contorted faces, moments that shouldn't be captured

but are, and carefully—even in the background: strands

of rambling couples below, gorging on the grilled and fried,

the transient bliss before morning, when torn down,

disassembled, everything spared near-gleaming at dawn.

About the author:

Keith Montesano's first book, Ghost Lights, a finalist for the 2008 Orphic Prize, will be published by Dream Horse Press in 2010. Other poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Hayden's Ferry Review, American Literary Review, Third Coast, Ninth Letter, Crab Orchard Review, Another Chicago Magazine, River Styx, Hunger Mountain, and elsewhere. He is currently a PhD Candidate in English at Binghamton University.

For further reading:

See the complete list of work by Keith Montesano at 42opus. Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 6, No. 2, where "Elegy for What Survives Inside the Body" ran on August 2, 2006. List other work with these same labels: poetry, elegy.

42opus is an online magazine of the literary arts.

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