Hilary Vaughn Dobel

I found an old poem, and for a breath
could not remember who I’d written to.
Like villagers post-plague or detonation
I venture into ruins for things I can’t myself
repair or make anew: vaccinations,
softened boxes full of bullets,
a thumbprint bruised into my bicep.
I used to hope I’d see him, in mirrors
or dark windows, in the webcam’s
grainy green where I’d float, big-haired
in bad lighting and talk to strangers.
Ghost of my own design, was it your
gloved hands tracing out my spine the night
I lied my way into the ER, hoping
to be touched? Even in the dream,
you only want to talk. You wear a beard
or something bright, say, Come on,
sunshine, take stock of what you have:
the way teen athletes lift their jerseys,
wipe their face but never drop their gazes;
the recorded sound of inhalation before
a song begins; or flight attendants, quiet
in the aisles, to show you with their bodies
the many ways you won’t be saved.