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Two Boys Bathing During a Ceasefire

Up to their waists, the river is calm
enough to be false.

The older one, lips just-fuzzed
warms a bit of water in his mouth

before guiding an indigo braid
over the younger’s shoulders.

For he had been shivering.
He had been shivering

all night. For the body, touched
by newer terrors, becomes a wing

attempting, not flight, but to fold
in a way that makes

flying, when it comes, a kind
of severance. The older boy cups

his full hands over the Braille rising
on his friend’s neck, like a beggar

asking for a lack he cannot keep.
Peter? the younger one whispers,
    I’m ready...

I’m ready. & the raised palms
open. A gasp, then black

water shattering over his back
like bullets—or wing bones

from tomorrow’s shadows.