Hannah Fries

Hannah Fries
Hannah Fries is associate editor and poetry editor of Orion Magazine and received her M.F.A in poetry from Warren Wilson College. She was recently selected to take part in an interdisciplinary project with the Colorado Art Ranch in Lake City, Colorado.

Love At Formel's Junkyard

When I say, "Formel's is where the Celibacy went to die,"
those who don't know the nickname of my late '84 Chevy

Celebrity are bound to raise their eyebrows. You couldn't
pick up anyone in that ride, expect maybe a grandpa or two,

which is why I love to watch the wheels turn as someone imagines
what it would be like to "park" at the junkyard—to steam

the back windows of some stalled-out station wagon,
springs pressing into your back, breathing hard the faint

smell of mildew—while outside piles of fenders gleam
in the moonlight among dark mountains of tires.

Lovemaking among the ruins. Something on the radio,
maybe "Muskrat Love." An air of urgency perhaps,

or the opposite. In seventh grade spin-the-bottle,
we lunged at each other across the circle, smashing our tight

mouths together in a way that would make dentists cringe. Embarrassing,
that desire to grab, to take and pull back quick enough to leave

oneself intact. We only wanted to delay what we suspected
but couldn't say: that someday we'd each come to pieces

in somebody else's arms, or alone (thinks the odd boy
in the corner), one way or another.

Take the patron saint of Siena, for example,
Santa Caterina, ministering during the plague, when construction

on the grand cathedral was permanently stalled for lack of living
hands and money. Once she fell from a high window

and lived—a tiny cross engraved in the smooth stone
of the piazza stair where she landed. They say she received

the stigmata, but for humility's sake, it only appeared after death.  
A person, even a saint, is allotted just so many miracles. Her head

is there, in the church, in a small box in a shadowed corner
behind glass.  Press a button to lend it dim light: barely

an outline of sunken cheeks and eyes, so you have to squint,
so the grotesque maintains its holy proportions. Her finger, too,

in its own slender box, shriveled and thin, eternally pointing
to heaven, or to the rest of her body, somewhere in Rome.

Everyone wants a piece of the sacred: the divvied-up saint, or the girl
on the opposite side of the circle who dodges the bottle every time,

or maybe just a few minutes in the moonlit junkyard—some
unattainable beauty you rip apart by wanting too badly. Orpheus

torn to pieces. In Corot's painting of Eurydice, she sits
alone on a rock to examine her snake-bitten ankle. She looks

tenderly at the wound, the venom already begun to slide
through her braided veins. Her face is calm and sad, but

almost smiling, as though she sees in the two swelling holes
in her skin a vision of the whole of everything

to come: her lover's sweet severed head taken up by the river,
muskrats gathered on the banks like an ad hoc chorus, and the reeds

bending to hear the tongue still make a murmured song.