Mercury Goes Right Through You |
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Mercury Goes Right Through You

On September 3, 1809, Meriwether Lewis set out for Washington, D.C. Lewis carried his journals with him for delivery to his publisher. He had written his will before attempting suicide on this journey. He was restrained.

Lewis and Clark chewed on mercury
for its laxative effects. Historians
tracked America’s woody sternum

using expedition shit, each proud
cluster gleamed like a medal.
The article reads Mercury Goes

Right Through You. I imagine a body
impaled by a planet. Such light
work this galaxy makes

of bone, fat, muscle. Once,
I drove through Colorado looking
for happiness I left in a snow drift.

I stalled my car, tried to unbury
its wheels with everything I had
in the trunk: a bag of charcoal,

overdue library books, a fishing net
the snow passed through. I found
only my appetite and left,

walked clumsily towards the dark
forest of my life. The wind blew
a song I recognized. One we’d

dance to in the living room.
The tree line parted like an exit
wound. I hummed harmonics.


Steven Espada Dawson is from East Los Angeles. The son of a Mexican immigrant, he is a former Ruth Lilly Fellow and Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing Fellow. He has served as a poetry editor for Copper Nickel and Sycamore Review and has taught creative writing at universities, libraries, and prisons across the country.

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