Volume 31, Number 3


Coiled in bed to his back, my hand closes on his: clenched.
Even asleep, his fingers fist up to hold off submerged grief,
grant no interlocking, as though hoarding a last breath.
I try to worm my way in, but they’re resistant as Basij,
knuckles hard as quartz. I hear a keening, almost a mewl,
murmur from his lips, and wonder what he dreams: den
of vipers? pit of boiling oil? his old man? I cannot help
quiet his turmoil, clamp down on his hand like an oyster
squeezes its pearl. This one is coal-black, its cave unlit,
unvoiced. He’s a convict in a vestibule, its perforated IV
waning as dawn winks closer. Things I cannot fix or unfix.
Yearning through cramped quarters, how his nightmare biz
afflicts our waking hours. He won’t recall—or is this a fib?

—Scott Wiggerman