“End of the World Memory” by Jen Rouse

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We sit at coffee discussing
what it means to meet
at abject vulnerability. Everything
catches in my throat, like hearts.

I avoid your hands. The link
that binds my conscious mind
to the mind I might meet
on the other side of the table.

If I have brought you through
from another life, I want
to know why. I don’t believe
in cosmic jokes. But I

believe I know you. And if
I brought you here from stars
or seas, I will not leave you.

If the end of the world
plays out in the background,
I will still choose to see only
you, across from me,

our hands tearing into
chests, ripping out those wondrous
hearts, and trading—
to remember when we

can’t remember the last
time we met or if I kissed you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jen Rouse directs the Center for Teaching and Learning at Cornell College.  Her poems have appeared in Poetry, Poet Lore, Wicked Alice, Southern Florida Poetry Journal, Yes Poetry, Up the Staircase, and elsewhere. She was named a finalist for the Mississippi Review 2018 Prize Issue and was the winner of the 2017 Gulf Stream Summer Contest Issue. Rouse’s chapbook, Acid and Tender, was published in 2016 by Headmistress Press.

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