The day Roe v. Wade was overturned I walked Sintra watching an old man bend wire into bicycles—a mechanism to turn legs into wheels—to leave—to wonder—to escape—to arrive. A woman said the word to me overturned and a tear responded: my exposure in the fraction before conscious awareness maintained decorum and wiped it away. Wombs have been political for some time, so I felt weak at my response, figures, secondly for my tears getting political on me—having an opinion about my interior which has never been mine; of which I have been trying to earn my entire life but this shit’s expensive: #kotex #douche #summerseve #summercamp. I’m damaged and the world knows it. Sintra—land of palaces knows it—erecting marble spires and conical breasts to house a royal womb. The most expensive thing in the world is the fortress wall around your snatch, managing traffic, securing entry, lewd. Every word about it is lewd. And grown men bending our wires into bicycles, not autonomy, take this one out for a spin, and we leave bursting in flushed red acne from the copper and implants. We are ever-exposed pluckable mechanical girls, mechanical woman, how I bend you to my desired mechanism.
because I recall the feeling of not knowing
My neighbor is having guests tonight. The river is oblivious to the bellowing, belligerent man, holding rapt attention of the host & gathering, but I am not. I’m not of the river, as songbirds knit lace in the air & water bugs create chase-me games below my feet. He moves quickly between themes, Isn’t rivers like lakes over music sounding like Bauhaus but not Bauhaus yet most likely Bauhaus, Hillary is a piece of shit, the bullfrogs aren’t offended, their cadence steady, she poses for a photo with a stack of AR-15’s behind her, and another of Osama Bin Laden with one AK—WHO DO YOU THINK KNOWS HOW TO OPERATE ONE OF THOSE Sometimes I hate that I love the river. I wanna be a performance otter . . . Angry Birds . . . don’t call me uncle . . . loons, you got loons It gets worse from there. Way worse, triggering. It could be raining on the water begging nostalgia for all the minnows feeding at dusk, breeching the surface to share the air for a moment, reaching for the lavender slush of light above their eyes, if you’ve never lain below a swarm of mayflies in July, the column, the flush, how trolling dragonflies, how songbirds, the column of life, the water bugs inventing geometry over and over, long before we arrived, unseen herons release the severest of regrettable hoarse cries and the sun, bidding our sector adieu but really, it is we that say goodnight to it, turning ourselves away.
In our dream band, on French horn:
Cole W. Williams is a poet, essayist, and hybrid writer. Featured works with Florida Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Ran Off With the Star Bassoon, Water~Stone Review, Eastern Iowa Review, Xinachtli Journal, and other journals. Williams attended the 2022 Bread Loaf Environmental Writers’ Conference within the poetry cohort.