KERRI ANNE LADISH


Star-Crossed Jumpers


Him


Wolves stunning and cunning and coming to devour us both and Iʼm running and sheʼs running and sheʼs faster than I am but only if weʼre careening downhill and we are and Iʼm watching her limbs tumult like a Thoroughbred’s legs long and strong pulsing like pistons and her ass round and full and Iʼm out of breath trying to catch her and I know sheʼs smiling even though I canʼt see her lips glistening and bright red like her favorite jelly beans like the jacket she wore the first day I met her like her face when I was able to make her rise into me for a moment make her let go of the present tense and succumb to my body my face in her face my breath hot on her skin her sweat on my sheets mind-reader she can hear my thoughts deep in their catacombs she always knew what I was thinking about her before I did when I was trying so hard not to let on I cared as deeply as I do her eyes blue and brassy like an alto saxophone her face buried in my shoulder buried in my long hair buried underneath my shortest red running shorts busy making my breath uneven her face so hell-bent on smiling even as I hurled mock indifference at her with the best of feared intentions miles of trials and trials of miles night runs dirt embedding itself into bare knees giddy laughter at feet finding footing losing footing finding more and more and more speed battling formidable rock up up and higher still to the steepest grades walls of earth I shouldnʼt be able to summit but I canʼt rest canʼt resist climbing to the peak my body wanting to die wanting to fly wanting to shout through pine boughs at the rabbitbrush and foxglove: IT IS FINISHED it was never enough was never going to be enough there was never going to be any stopping there was only ever going to be this: falling and falling and falling until the words stop seeping and the thoughts stop screaming skyward like alpine tamaracks next to the lakes I never wanted to swim but always wanted to watch her dive in.









Her


Always the villain in his stories his words rubbing me raw urging me to chase after the junk show scarecrow he built out of brittle bones and bike summers spent pedaling into wide open spaces and wide open legs chasing dreams as wild as the woods he seeks: empty and untouched and reeking of pristine promise the way he wanted to find them the way he always wanted to run his truth into them let the mountaintops unwind him fight him teach him how to be better how to be bigger how to be broken how to be wanted and never discarded the way I never pretended to be scared to love him big as a Makoshika sky as high as Grand Teton as deep as Lake Alturas in late August always talking out of both sides of his mouth hyperbolic downplaying dancing in tongue-tied lines mingling to tell lies fanciful stories I wished I’d dreamed this time flying over seas too shallow to be oceans too deep to be lakes no mistaking his meaning this time but words are just words and can be taken back always the villain in his stories because he doesnʼt know how to let me be anything else and I could never make him see: I could have saved him if heʼd let me.