The air smells of the bog in November
when autumn’s burning reds and oranges have died away
to smoldering browns and rusted golds
and the cranberries lie fat and heavy
sinking into the top of the water.


I own much that is contraband,
from the flames that flicker in the red wax,
red like the stain I found in the parking lot
where the ambulance was parked three nights ago,
to Goethe the fish, whose fins are an everlasting change
from sangria to navy to bioluminescent blue and back again.


My philosopher follows my painted fingernail trustingly and I have realized
that I love all two and a half inches of him far too dearly
to ever torment myself by thinking of what would kill him first,
the oxygen-deprived water? Or the chill of the depths?


Rachmaninov floods my headphones, I close my eyes
and close my book.
I can taste the bite of the cranberries, I can feel the cold water
rushing up around my rubber boots, seeping through
a crack I did not know was there.
The air smells of rotting leaves and peat.
A candle snuffed out, memento mori.
Remember death. (Remember decay.)


Somewhere in light filtered through colored glass, someone
is praying.
The lilies smell like rotting flesh, like forming peat.


I drank cranberry liqueur this summer in a cold, rainy country
watched the girl at the bar braid back her hair
watched the flaxen strands catch the mock-candlelight as they slid like water
through her fine-boned hands.
I wanted another shot. It burned on its way down.


I stumbled through cross-mulch, I slipped on wet leaves;
treacherous with rain and decay.
Somewhere in a church an altar boy is sneaking
the communion wine before mass.
It passes his lips in the space between the Ave Maria
and the Pater Noster;
his lips slicked dark red with Christ’s bordeaux.


Somewhere in Massachusetts, a watery grave
of cranberries
is rotting.


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