Bruce Weigl

(1949 / Lorain, Ohio / United States)

What Saves Us - Poem by Bruce Weigl

We are wrapped around each other in
the back of my father's car parked
in the empty lot of the high school
of our failures, the sweat on her neck
like oil. The next morning I would leave
for the war and I thought I had something
coming for that, I thought to myself
that I would not die never having
been inside her long body. I pulled
her skirt above her waist like an umbrella
inside out by the storm. I pulled
her cotton panties up as high as
she could stand. I was on fire. Heaven
was in sight. We were drowning on our
tongues and I tried to tear my pants off
when she stopped so suddenly
we were surrounded only by my shuddering
and by the school bells grinding in the
empty halls. She reached to find something,
a silver crucifix on a silver
chain, the tiny savior's head hanging
and stakes through his hands and his feet.
She put it around my neck and held
me so long the black wings of my heart
were calmed. We are not always right
about what we think will save us.
I thought that dragging the angel down would
save me, but instead I carried the crucifix
in my pocket and rubbed it on my
face and lips nights the rockets roared in.

People die sometimes so near you
you feel them struggling to cross over,
the deep untangling, of one body from another.

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Poem Submitted: Friday, July 25, 2014

Poem Edited: Friday, July 25, 2014

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