“The List”

A Poem by Zoë Hitzig

June 9, 2021  By Zoë Hitzig

Who lords this list anyway. Whose lists is
the lord of this list on. Eighty days of next
on the list after a lifetime of lists. Of

strip-mined tar sands + petrified dunes.
Creasing the terrain of your forehead.
Behind which blinking synapses wait.

Restless geothermal features. The city also
waits. Heaving + short of breath, strapped in
by busy blood-bridges. Red taillights mirror blue

headlights. Color-coded weight cresting toward
some walled-off core. Machine that gives
+ receives. The city (your body) is full of division.

Welcomes metal + flesh. Vestigial appendages.
Futuristic ordnance. The hungry + fed mingle
in aortic alleys. The well + unwell mosh in your

rib cage. Rib cage as runaway truck ramp. As layby.
New home to active-duty batteries extracted from
the broken flashlight. Carrier for ammo + gun

from the just-dead soldier. Rewired
stand-in for the melting circuit on the fuse box.
Snug cavern for the exiled apostle—

would we take to it as we took to your son
would you take to it as you took to your wife
would it take after you like your son takes

your hand now, fingers contorted around
your thumb like veins dodging behind
the vena cava, as the nurse announces the news.

Pulsing from a heap of crackling synapses
the small bivalve machine you are waiting for
unpledges its allegiance to another body veering

off the curve of homeostatic indifference. The body
skids into a plane of infinitesimal mirrors. This still-
splintering stranger is our gift no more lists—

we will take to it as we took to your son
you will take to it as you took to your wife
will it take after you like the other father

whose son is not tugging the gauze of your wife’s
moss-green dress as she lifts him onto your hospital bed.
The other father whose son’s body the slow moss

arranges to cover. Body in surrender. To surrender
is to empty oneself of allegiance. So that all sums
are zero-sum. So that the moss may take its place.


Mezzanine, Zoe Hitzig

Excerpted from The Mezzanine by Zoë Hitzig. Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Ecco Books. Copyright © 2021 by Zoë Hitzig. 

Zoë Hitzig
Zoë Hitzig
Zoë Hitzig is the author of Mezzanine and a PhD candidate in economics at Harvard. Her poems have appeared in Paris Review, The New Yorker, Harper's, Lana Turner Journal and elsewhere. She has published essays and criticism in WIRED, New York Review of Books, BOMB and Prac Crit.

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