Patrick Kindig


Patrick Kindig

     On the Slenderman Stabbing in Waukesha, WI

Two girls drift along the forest’s
edge, the highway a narrow tongue

their bodies follow. They feel here
how small they are, their skin slick with sweat

beneath their backpacks, their bones fragile
as sea glass. They have just learned

a lesson in perspective—the law of mortal
relations. One carries in her bag

the memory of it, a dream of power sharpened
to a point, gunmetal and red. The other carries

its shape beside her heart. Their eyes are turned
to the future, to the shimmering home they imagine

beyond the horizon. (Neither speaks
of the gasping wreckage they left

in the woods, its screams so like
an animal’s, limbs growing sticky and damp

in the shade of a maple tree.) How many men
have killed for less? How many have died

for the same holy promise? The girls
walk on, pilgrims shedding their children’s

skin. Now they are lung and muscle. Now
they are sinew and bone. Now they are nothing

but two silhouettes slouching
slowly toward a castle

of longing, toward the forest’s
black secret, toward the bright

and bloody pearl at the center of their world.

Portrait of Boy in Greyhound Bus Window

We are halfway between Indianapolis and Ann Arbor
when I see his fingers make a decision. Beneath

the blackened television screen, beneath the cover of
an electric blue hoodie, beneath the bus’s bone-shaking

music and its sacral echoes, his zipper opens
like an eyelid. Outside, the world is an indecipherable map

of penises—silos and pylons, the soft curve
of a pine tree rising from uneven ground. Inside

there is just the one. The air conditioner drowns
out all sound and now the only sign of it is

the gentle rocking of his lap, imperceptible
to anyone not looking for such things, the sheer and simple

audacity of this act for him like a colossal pair
of lips. He looks through the rain-wet window

at his own reflection, one corner of his mouth curling
upward like an animal intent on the task

of population. This is misleading: he is here not for business
but pleasure. He finishes in his palm, still

secret beneath the blue hoodie, still silent, and
he handprints the seat beside him sticky. His face shimmers

in the window, soft brown on a field of grey and green,
and he smiles at himself. What contentment! What

intimacy! The white of his teeth flashes a promise
to the glass: You are all I will ever love.

PATRICK KINDIG is a graduate student in Indiana University’s Department of English. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Gulf Stream, Fugue, Bloom, Court Green, and elsewhere.