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   s o u n d    o f    a    b o d y    f a l l i n g    o f f    a    b r i d g e

--- J A M E S   H O C H

I can tell you there is no word for this in any language. I've asked

and everyone seems to confirm its translatability. Feet shuffling off a stone pillar- simple, but not easy. A young tree

fracturing under the sudden weight- exactly how one imagines it. And somewhere between shuffle and fracture- the silence of Scott Koch's body

falling off the Normanwood Bridge, which is also the silence of stars.


They write their arc over faces of stones staring up from riverbed,

and if you were a swarm of mayflies hatching in the pre-dawn, coal-dark

aubade of a Susquehanna morning, or if you were a freshman in college

and bought some pot and drove out with friends to gaze at stars,

you would know stars make a hell of a racket. Like time, like death, they scrawl their inscrutable marks of light.


Say you are not a hatch of insects or one of those kids wrecked and lovely,

their skins' leaf-awkward sheen. Though if you were, you'd be lost in a fury of living and dying. So you'll have to trust the words for the way his face twitched, went

stone-white, for how unbeautiful his body comprehended night, words

for a breath untaken, the arrested air in his lungs.


I give them to you piecemeal, hand over hand, as if in aftermath

we build a city of bridges. I press each against your mouth. They taste of salt.

They fall into place. They are beginning to mean less and less. They only do

what they do. For anything else, you'll need something like a life, or memory-

car tires ticking over a bridge, wheel of a flower cart knocking cobblestone,

seams, separations.

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