Editor’s Choice Award
By Anthony Dipietro
begin with a spiral mountain road with no end, its curves a familiar, smooth drive. one morning my mind is composing a theory of body as more than bone, as a series of rooms configured vertically, all hung together by bakery string. seeing only a stick, I roll my tires neatly over what becomes a black snake. fact: black snakes are harmless. what’s the mathematics of surface area pressure? what is the weight of this car? last night on a rainforest walk, an unseen black bird took flight. abruptly shoved off his thick green cover to flee. my body’s response? blood fear, a chemical reminder I’m animal first. my mother’s mother sat at the bedside of great-grandma, camilla, and knew the hour she’d die. camilla tried to leave her bed, pleading, needing to touch feet to ground one more time. this woman in a hospital bed did not mean tile, she meant black soil. and I spend hours conjuring my first love, charming him back from the dead with words he left me. I could touch his black hair again while he smiles with bloodshot eyes. when last I saw him, his body was simply slack weight, a deflated membrane his mother would sponge-wash. fact: a snake run over slithers back into the greenery soundlessly, not even curling its tongue. fact: its vertebrae are cracked, its ribs are crushed, its injury will be lethal, but not right away. I’ll still be driving home, radio loud, raising songs that bring my baby alive. a snake in this kind of pain takes a long time with its dying.