I Can Hear the Rot in You

I Can Hear the Rot in You
by Jennifer Conlon

Clinking like a rake over not-leaves,
maybe a rock, maybe a hot wheel. Your outside
has no noise, but I hear past your thinning
exterior, your arm hair,
past the clenching and unclenching
of your mouth. I learn to read your war.

I learn to hear what it says in various hours
of your day. I learn to listen hard
because its voice is low and often
says things it does not mean,
has to take them back and start over.
Sometimes your war is a whisper
that speaks to your body.

I wonder if you ask your war, will it take all this back.
Because I can hear the rot in you. I can hear
the kudzu twisting up your spine,
crumbling you like bark. I can hear the soft dark
earth tilling itself under there. You tell me
your war is home and you are not scared.
All that rot warms you, keeps you
in your body. Something like the difference
between the slug and the snail.

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Jennifer Conlon lives in Tempe, AZ and hails from North Carolina. She is a poetry candidate in ASU’s MFA program, where she also teaches freshman composition and poetry, and serves as the First Looks Editor of Hayden’s Ferry Review. Her poems have been published by Four Chambers Press and Hiedra Magazine. These three poems are inspired by the experience of watching her brother return from war. They inspect both the internal, individual structures of trauma as well as the ungraspable numbers of those affected.