Bailey Cohen

Angelo Gives Birth To A Wild Horde of Dragonflies

 

The sun is so high

it cannot be seen. If there is a breeze, it is breaking

 

each of the petals from their flowers! Unimportant bugs

tremble behind them, like tumbleweed waltzing

 

above the earth. In this dream, I am small

enough to fit inside just a single drop of water. Nobody

 

can see me, but I am so beautiful. I say silly things. I watch grass grow

& say this is the grass! this is the grass

 

that grows! I watch a child surprise his way into a kaleidoscope 

 

of butterflies. I watch the sky & move toward it 

like prayer. 

 

When I wake, I give birth painlessly to a wild horde of dragonflies. 

The Dragonflies Pantomime A Child

 

We miss the lake! We miss the

lake! 

 

We have never seen a lake.

 

Watch us

collide with each other

 

until the whole of us is shaped like a child. Hold our hand

 

& take us, please, to the lake.

Angelo Tries To Convince The Child Again Going To The Lake

Listen to me—I know my achievements

aren't many. Just yesterday, I

 

hobbled to the market in search of pineapples 

 

but bought only pre-made mango salsa. but I 

love you! child, I 

 

love you—I will write poems about your little flights! The child 

 

buzzes angrily at me, waving his arms like a suddenly animate scarecrow. 

The lake! The 

 

lake! Child! Child! Light

of my life! There is no lake. Let me comb your hair.

 

 

 

The Lake Remembers A Summer

 

I forget

that I'm lonely, I forget

 

that I've been made terrifying. Remember the fish

& their fish faces? The politicians & businessmen & war profiteers’ didn't think they were beautiful

 

enough & hardly anyone disagreed! Is this 

a dilemma? I remember saying loudly

 

This is a dilemma!

 

until men like Angelo threw their poisons in my water. 

Joy! Joy! Joy! The red-eyed rabbits

 

would nibble beside me. Angelo, what 

would it make of you, were you to do something cruel 

 

to a cruel thing?

 

 

 

Angelo Confesses To The The Child

 

If you prioritize

 

your body, you prioritize your species. Thus—

prey. Thus—I am forever 

 

folding into my shoulders. They ache & I

 

ignore them. I ignored the myriad signs. I took

long showers. Ate pink meat. Left lights on. My sins are unspectacular

 

& plentiful. The child buzzes angrily, until its shadow resembles many things, if those things were     

               only shadows; if their shadows were made of dragonflies.

 

I'm trying to say we consumed the lake. We poured into

the lake

 

until the lake was more Human than lake. I used to spend summers

ruining

 

its silky water into perfect circles

with silver stones. Now, there are puddles upon it, brown

 

as unoxidized pennies. I'm

sorry. I'm the messenger 

 

& I'm shooting

the messenger. Child, believe me! The heartbeats

 

I'd exchange for things like a willow tree. The people who love me

tell me I worry too much. Child, I worry

 

for you! I worry if you go to the lake & sip its water,

you will be faithless as a businessman! Can you not just sit

 

beside me? Eat this fruit before it spoils?

 

 

 

Angelo Drowns

Men like you have thrown their poisons in the water. All we wanted

 

was to go to the lake

& now—look—would you call that

 

a lake? It is nearly entirely

Human

 

in its composition! I hope I stand unseen. The worst

things bathe of man. Angelo! The grief

 

of it all! With my many-winged hands I could wring

your neck! For

 

the first time, when he looks at me, Angelo

seems afraid. We take the boy, our

 

many-winged hands join those of what once was water

& into Angelo's open mouth we begin 

 

to weep. Angelo! we 

sob, let us comb 

 

your hair.

 

 

 

Angelo is Prayed For

 

Don't call this a drowning. Even the quietest forms of protest can be beautiful, like a poet

learning to read

 

by candlelight. Beside the poisons, the body

of Angelo rests. The lake

 

is cleaned, but it dirties again, quickly

as blood

 

appearing & re-appearing in a fresh wound. Something violent happens

 

somewhere else & Angelo

is forgotten. On this odd rock there are crueler mysteries

 

than a child

made of dragonflies, & his suddenly bloodied hands. His hands! The child

 

asks the politicians

& the businessmen & war profiteers—what

 

does it make of you

when you do something cruel

 

to a cruel thing?

Bailey Cohen is the author of Self-Portraits as Yurico (Glass Poetry Press, 2020). The associate editor of Frontier Poetry, his work is featured in publications such as Southern Indiana Review, Boulevard, Raleigh Review, [PANK], Boiler Journal, Longleaf Review, and elsewhere. Bailey is a student at NYU and can be found across most social media platforms @BaileyC213.