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This Life Not Yet Saved

—for L

Issue 113, Summer 2021

Photo by Natalia Sobolivska via Unsplash


dearly beloved:—

no ode to elegy but some other way

to summon the dark irreverence

in our hands & breath


for (listen) who dies next


I admit

I tend to claim


only the sorry facts

the losses

we mostly survived

the many bitternesses



that didn’t sever how we continue

to cleave

our days together

first the early months of



learning how to fit

love in the mouth

with a history of grief still living

behind our teeth



then a static note where the fetal heart

. . . .

should have flickered

then your cancer



cut free & cured

like the river of my youth

. . . .

which could’ve but didn’t take you



for the unknowable bottom of death

so bless every ragged thing

returning our togetherness

our comfort reshaping around



what I weep to call a miracle

each new gravity of light

quietly flooding the shared rooms

I know I know      goddamn time



pulling us toward different endings

no one knows       & I don’t want

to learn

any beautiful bewilderment left



in the wonder

of your wake & I don’t want

to rename the unbidden slow-dance of

my own impending nothingness





waiting to join another nothingness &

I don’t want you alone either with

whatever sound follows

the tearing of an almost



fabric-like absurdity

we’ve spent years


with faith



weaving into home—the terrible belief of

resting & rising inside tomorrow

undivided             what future shudder

did we dream for one another



my god    I need it to matter then

how we’ve spent the darkness

of so many evenings

swaying to 



the temporary music made by

a hurt-close living—smiling & turning   

nearly the entire night sometimes


according to the purest
little unbroken circles of joy

the doom of our loaded arms can sing

Geffrey Davis

Geffrey Davis is the author of Night Angler and Revising the Storm (BOA Editions). A recipient of fellowships from Bread Loaf, Cave Canem, and the National Endowment for the Arts, he’s published work in New England Review, the New Yorker, and Ploughshares. Davis teaches at the University of Arkansas and the Rainier Writing Workshop.