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1 poem
by K. Iver

K. Iver is a nonbinary poet born in Mississippi. They have received a Ph.D. in Poetry at Florida State University. Their work has appeared or is forthcoming in Boston Review, BOAAT, Gulf Coast, Puerto del Sol, Split Lip, and elsewhere. They are the 2021-2022 Ronald Wallace Poetry Fellow for the University of Wisconsin Creative Writing Institute.

Anti Elegy

If you were here    the Mississippi 

would still run    south. Would still

drop its griefs    into the Gulf where

our friends      would still swim 

in summer.   Water would touch us    

like water.    If you were here

the river     that is your body would 

not move      magically. While 

it emptied      from the bladder’s

headwaters,      from tear ducts 

& pores, public    officials would 

still turn the fact    of your body 

into arguments.      You might’ve 

struck the impos-    sible: surgery,

a new name, your     own boat, & 

someone beautiful   to name it after. 

Someone beautiful    & their baby. 

From one dormroom   landline to 

another, your wishlist    sounded like 

a fairytale. Like grow-    ing a merman’s

fin between classes.     I thought we    

were playing pretend    when you said

Goodnight Tinkerbell      & I said the boy’s

name you wanted     secret. Even then

strangers spoke to    a boy when speaking

to you. That was      twenty years ago,

the list already      a plan, already gliding

an undercurrent     sprung twenty

years before that.    If you were here,

still drinking cold     tea in a cold diner,

men in state capitol    conference rooms

hours down the high-   way would still

draft bathroom laws   for adults. Your 

mother would still    sneak taffeta & silk

in your closet of     fatigues & say 

she loved you.    I wouldn’t imagine

your capillaries    reassembling. If you   

were still dying   like the rest of us,

I wouldn’t tell    a young ghost how

far we’ve come    as if I believed how  

far we’ve come    was enough. Wouldn’t    

worry about who     else gets more

than 27 years. Your    body wasn’t

a national-average.    You wanted more

than safety. But       I didn’t wake

sore in the jaw    until I heard the

numbers. Until    a nation, an entire

nation, couldn’t   offer an alibi.

Missy, my grief    is righteous

& problematic.   It floods the last

four walls hold-   ing you & begs

for time. It hurls   absurd reasons  

from a future: a    handful of non-cis

film stars human-    izing a handful of

non-cis characters.   Better doctors.

My grief says it’s     helping but argues

only for me. The   relief, the micro-  

second of relief     when I achieve   

the unexpected &    hope you find out.

This means I forget    you’re gone.

This makes my grief    a loose dam.

Still, I talk to water    that unrivered

your body for dirt.   I float fantasies

of dirt that holds    us up. Longer. 

I say to the water   if you were here,  

you’d be here.  

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