:: Article

Turn the Sky

By Nicholas Rombes.

I can’t account for Monroe, Michigan, in 1969
Or the unearthed Chippewa bones on the hot, sloped
Edge of the Raisin River, the sudden scream
And shaking free from the earth of
Those ferocious black water birds.

What you feared I feared, the enormity of
Us together, that the birds knew
Facts about this earth obscure to us and
Yet our fear seems so plotted out now,
So predictably algorithmic.

Your soon-to-be fired archaeology professor called it genocide, what
Happened here in 1813. Careful
Now. The turquoise she wore on her fingers and wrists, the black
Upside down cross around her neck that signaled an
Inscrutable intention.

And those hip bones as sharp as the slaughtered Indian tibias
You helped her remove as gentle as babies from the wet
Clay river banks. The truth is, I envied

The hippy professors drunk on Foucault who trundled you away
With them to that sleaze-bag hotel off Route 23 North.
You wanted me to come with you to watch
Them shoot your drugs and wrist-tie you
To that cheap bed. Could you hear the blank
Clatter of dropping ice in the hallway machines as you faded?

What do I remember of the drive the next year across
Four states to read my stories to seven students in a 75-seat
Classroom, and one of them was you?

You, of course. I remember you. The sky above us as we
Smoked our cigarettes outside after the Q &A and
Now how it won’t turn, won’t turn Lisa won’t turn
Without you.


Pictures from The Removals by Nicholas Rombes.



Nicholas Rombes

Nicholas Rombes is author of the novel The Absolution of Roberto Acestes Laing (Two Dollar Radio) and the 33 1/3 book Ramones (Bloomsbury), as well as the director of the feature film The RemovalsHis work has appeared in The BelieverThe Los Angeles Review of Books, and Filmmaker Magazine. He is a professor of English at the University of Detroit Mercy, at the corner of Six Mile and Livernois, in Detroit, Michigan.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Monday, January 18th, 2021.