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Rewriting History, Despy Boutris

Previously published in Ruminate Journal

CW: mentions of death & drowning

In the dream, I pull her up

from the lakescum and swim

us back to shore. It’s hot, air thick

as maple syrup, and mosquitos feast

on any flesh they find. Our bites bleed

blue as we lie in the grass

littered with ducks begging for bread,

quacking at our Wonder Bread

toes. Eyes shut, our hands clasp

in the space between us, hands

still stained from picking blackberries

from brambles, still sore

from the pricks of all those little thorns.

And it haunts me: this dream

where she lives, where it’s not me

who kills her. Because, in this dream,

it’s not me who kills her—not me

with my back turned, not seeing her

splashes turn to thrashes then to nothing

at all. In this dream,

she doesn’t even die. No limp body, no mouthful

of froth. Here, the sunrays slice

the sky, drying our silted skin. Our bodies

refract sunlight, her blonde curls so light

they’re nearly blinding—white

as the curls locked in the locket

I’ve worn around my neck ever since,

the one I’m clasping in my fist.


Despy Boutris's writing has been published or is forthcoming in Copper Nickel, Ploughshares, Crazyhorse, AGNI, American Poetry Review, The Gettysburg Review, Colorado Review, and elsewhere. Currently, she teaches at the University of Houston and serves as Editor-in-Chief of The West Review.

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