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Image by James Homans


the madrigal, volume v

Boris the Bear, and Other Trials of Love

by helen jenks

In our second decade, we begin to talk seriously
of the future, as if suddenly, overnight, it is no longer

coyly out of reach. Sitting on the canal, the sun

strikes your ashen hair, and you tell me you might

never marry, but you want three children
(two girls for sure, just like us, just like our sisters)

and that soon your parents will leave New York,

but you couldn’t, not yet, not ever. We wonder

if what gets us in the end will be cancer, like my

mother’s, or dementia, like my grandmother’s,

or if we’ll pass peacefully next to each other
just like we planned when we were ten years old,

somewhere cushy, away from the world, in a box

or under a stone that blankets the edge of the sea.

Maybe you’ll smother me, finally tiring of my voice

after all these years, and maybe I’ll join you, and
we’ll giggle like we’ve never left the comfort of
your birthday parties, the last ones up and whispering

all our plans into the sweet eyrie of the dark,
as if it was a witness hidden behind the pillows,

among the snores, above our heads. I would miss

your laughter, though, the ache of your presence
in my ribs, and I’d draw back, the silence confounding.

I promise you we’ll move to Paris, and take a picture

of the spot where we sit, overlooking a sunlit city

and tired, happy eyes, where any dream spoken

aloud, here, in this place, in this moment,

becomes truth. On the way home, I pass tulips

and think of you.

I hope, dearly, that we’re right.

Helen Jenks is a poet from Dublin, bumbling history student, and avid knitter who writes of memory and myth, among other things. Her work has been published in various journals across Ireland, the UK, and the US, and she acts as the editor of The Madrigal, an Irish poetry publication focused on work that is emotive, sincere, and familiar.

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