we are building forts out of dictionaries. shiny ones stolen
from chain bookstores; peeling-spine editions from library
booksales. dictionaries with the pages moldy. with the definitions
quaint. light, pocket-sized, wood-pulp editions. i used to have a dictionary
that i used as a weapon, checking the house for robbers.
it was so big i needed both hands to hold it, my fingers
stretched wide, clutching words close to my heart, ready.
i have donated it to the cause. our wall
is four inches higher. those words, not delineation
when i looked up the word unlearn i forgot it would make a hole
in our fort, the size of the side of a book, that a bomb
could slip through. the walls wavered. the floods made the pages
crinkle. the locusts ate the definitions. when i looked up the word
inspiration your pictures tumbled out. i tucked them in. i couldn’t
look at your face, doomed and luminous. i didn’t need to look up
the other words, the worst words. i knew them already. i needed
to look up something good, needed to see the tiny illustrations. i lied:
i needed to see your face again, even though i know
what comes next. but i shut the dictionary, and shoved it into the hole.
i didn’t want to, but we were at war.