Missing Crooked

For so long, I’ve scoured
thumbprints on maps, empty

corridors, boats in harbor, constellations
that refuse to navigate. Thick with shrapnel

and gutted like a shoe
without laces, I stumble, call for you

in all the ways I know how—a leap
into dark water, a knife at roped

throat, a cup of black coffee
left steaming—but the violence

of the ordinary impresses
nothing: death took

on the shape of you and mocked me
like a girl on the stock end

of a rifle, left me with a spare
life I don’t deserve, all dog-eared

on a horse’s back. I’m like
the hollowed belly of a crook-

necked guitar—empty, save
the echoes of song gone

quiet. That maw is an eye
to calloused fingers, tender

skin that learned real quick
not to shiver under steel, and didn’t I

learn faster than anyone?
After all, I’m the one

who survived. Could you forgive
the Rover for losing itself

in hot sand? The rope for
knotting into cages? More and more,

I catch myself stroking the trigger
against a hunted face with my eyes,

your voice in its throat. I think
I’ve got to stop. The call

to arms is static now, spraypaint
from a hand long since erased.

There is no map
to where you are—you

were. But if someday is a dawn
I get to see, I’d like to be the kind

of person who takes up a stringed neck
with careful fingers and sings

to something soft
between us, something living.