Elegy: Agreement: The Sublease I Burned Down


in the house fire beside my birth certificate I lost the flowers. The ones you sent to my place on the peninsula when I was on
the peninsula violating the terms of our ____________
where I saw a stag with the scalp and antlers of another
stag tangled up on his head. Gutted a trout filled with grass. When I smelled

the house fire I knew a few things–that I would live and that the chipmunks in the wall
would all burn up, death I’d prayed for, poison I’d dropped in the walls and found

spit back out. But I busted a hole in the plaster with

the handle of a guitar. In the hills they saw a tail of smoke and that’s why

the police came. They don’t know that while I waited, while the flowers

you’d spent a day’s pay on, a day of work while I ___________
were reduced and reduced again

I looked into the eye of a dying house cat and the heart of the flame and it said
that I could finally be forgiven if only I learned how
through a mouth of coals,
to speak.

Hannah Schoettmer’s writing has appeared in The Louisville Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, SOFTBLOW, The Shore, and elsewhere. She’s received fellowships and support for her writing from Brooklyn Poets and the Seattle Opera, among others. She’s the author of Body Panopticon (Bottlecap Features). She lives in Los Angeles.

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