I found you buried in me
that day I swam to the island crowning on Lake … Lake …
I forget its name. Instead I remember
catching my breath only halfway there.
Sometimes you finish just because
to give up would require as much effort.
The shore turned up hot, sharp pebbles, cacti
and wild, suspicious hares. (How did they get there?)

Later, a man well versed in safety measures
helped me into a life jacket and his boat.
He was kind in a way one man seldom is to another.
To comfort me, he told me was … was …
I forget his name. Instead I remember

The intervening hours on that red island.
I had peeled off my skin to air out the past,
when I found you, writhing,
miraculously alive with your own private chaos,
your eyes brimming with embarrassment,
your sibilant voice saying, let’s be at home
wherever we are.

Justin Jannise is a poet originally from southeast Texas. He won the Albert Stanburrough Cook Prize for Poetry, and the Elmore A. Willets Prize for Fiction, from Yale University, in 2009. He currently lives in Iowa City, where he is attending the Iowa Writers Workshop.
*Photo courtesy of Gord McKenna.
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