Miriam Akervall


the two body problem is that there is only one
body laying on the kitchen floor
counting portions of brisket and bullets
on the evening of passover a body is guilty
or forgot to paint the door with blood
a body needs to be reminded and writes
“I’m in the floor in the litchen
I hear more gunshots
when I was shaving lunch”
and I read this and think of all the holes
this year put in people, a body needs to be reminded
there are too many holes in america

the two body problem is that this can happen
to one body but not the other

the two body problem is the inability to compute
one body lives and feeds and cries and gets well
light years from one that fears, unable to rest,
heal without sedatives, express pain, be believed
sometimes a lightyear is one door over
sometimes it is the distance to the passenger seat
are two bodies of one flesh one body?
I told my body to go to the basement, couldn’t stand
picturing the abandoned countertop, a cold cup of tea
snipers in the backyard, there is a tank, a livestream
living full of fish guts and magazine clippings
neighbors pull their curtains back to lap it up

the two body problem is that this doesn’t happen
is that it happens all the time

sun makes the day look warm but it is cold
waiting for a sleepless body,
scrolling through memes eating minee creams
from a nuclear pink plastic bowl placed for bodies
in tactical parade, the industrial metronome of bodies
in the business of treating and transporting bodies
waiting in an old factory that smells like toast
rubber burn replaced in the cut up pages of my pharynx
perhaps this memory will keep me alive
I am waiting, the body doesn’t come
took a job driving mail trucks, six twelves
for twenty and hour, works nights, needs a kidney

it is easy to confuse breakfast with signals of distress
the problem with bodies is that they too are replaceable

I grew up in a place where the only sirens are the
self announcements of water fowl and duplicitous fey
roads made of dirt and anonymous neighbors
place of silence, bodies like skeins
spinning lace and lassitude, bodies, like days, the
same there is always food, but you’re not
supposed to eat. If you do you have to stay
the solutions come in boxes individually portioned
tailored to YOUnique specific needs
as long as they fit in the boxes and this is not a problem
a problem is the emotional ecchymosis
a body against the hour hand, the cupboard, the table

but what is it called when there are two bodies
and neither has a name

It is four am when one body surprises another
sleeping armed on armchair by bear spray and stick
there is a storm, electric contact like a fist
to a wall behind their head two bodies
hold their own fists, each other’s apology
is a pelted blunder the crying next door
is a funny bone the body acts comically
reach throw
row go
when the cops leave there are two identical moments
slumped and wordless against a hard place
lightness is how you keep kicking

two bodies fluent in drowning remain afloat
remember air starved love head-tilt-chin-lift

Miriam Akervall pursues seasonal work, penpals, and donuts with about equal attention. Their poems have appeared in Apiary Magazine, Voicemail Poems, Ariadne Magazine, and many inboxes. At the time of this poem, they were maintaining trails in Vermont’s Green Mountains.