Chanel Clarke

To Duel in an Empty Field

At dawn, we wanted
to come forth
on horseback with pistols,

but we couldn’t be
bothered and stayed in bed.

We needed to see
each other feel the day
ease into evening, lips colder

as the darkening hour made
our breath visible again.

Stay in your leather,
beautiful. Keep your wool
if you need it.

You are what you are,
one of us might say out loud,

and it wouldn’t matter who
because we would have made
peace with our symmetries

by then, and we wouldn’t care
so much about the noise

warming our skin. We could
nurse the noise into music.
After all, forgiving the body

is a matter of survival.
Sing wherever you are.

Be percussive, ridiculous, and brave.

Chanel Clarke is a Poetry Fellow at the Michener Center for Writers in Austin, Texas. Her poems are also forthcoming in Bayou, Anti- and Intersections.

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