Logic as the Second Person Singular
AIDS sufferers in Papua New Guinea have been buried alive by their terrified
relatives….If they killed the victims with a machete it would expose them to
infection, they believe.
—The Telegraph, August 28, 2007
The birds are gone, it’s all dead now so you can stop taking pictures of your shadow. The sugarcane is lamplit and the sugar bowl is a game you play with a bit of string tied at the ends where you put your hand in and then the string disappears. It is the color green or the Dutchman caught on the way from New Guinea with a dozen hummingbirds sewn into his underwear. Their wings were taped and placed in little coats. A rare kind of death they found, buried alive with wings. Stabbing at the warm parts. He was caught in line for his next flight, fidgeting. You were there, stabbing ice with a straw. Customs officials snapped photographs holding the bird-filled underwear and smiling. You don’t need sun to take pictures of shadows. You just need a camera. It’s all dead now. The lamp is glazed with sap like a tree left to itself. The sap changes the light so you can put your hand inside. It’s all dead now and the sugar bowl is stuck to the desk. Buried in a little coat, it’s all dead now, straw-haired and fidgeting. You spell colors into your thumbs and forefingers, opening and closing a paper fortune-teller.
Michael Hurley’s work has appeared in the Sycamore Review, Weave Magazine, The Fourth River, Fourteen Hills, and elsewhere. He is the winner of the 2012 Keystone Chapbook Prize, and his chapbook, Wooden Boys, is forthcoming from Seven Kitchens Press. He lives in Pittsburgh.