Alex Chertok

Rebody it forth

Day of bad news at the doctor’s. Day of
about-face: from health to frail, from self
to body, rote to fraught breath.

The sun has a heft
of a blue whale’s red half-ton heart
risen from the ocean to descend back into it.

Day of reversals, of being given
this vision of hearts
pulsing on the sky.

Having come a long way to land here,
the waves dump their heavy sacks down, now, now,
, filled with their startled debris.

They wipe his footprints clean from the beach.
Above, the faint start of the moon,
like a welt.

How heals it,
wailing at the night? Here,
of the wind’s cool breath

against his cheek, but he hears
just the horizon aquiver,
soon to be jilted.

Surely the moon can be other than cyst.
What if it were strong,
hard-hatted, who left

the soft darkness of space behind
to clock in? What if
the sun shivers down, down,

melted by the moon’s desire to wing
a whole hand-width across the sky?
This kind of trek in one night:

small, almost stayed put.
The waves, too, pulled
up and down and not forward.

Even in daytime when no one
can see the moon pulling. This
kind of heart, of grit. What if the moon

kept both eyes on its work, even
as the sun Icaruses out of view?
What if the moon were this tender

of water hissing on shore
against this body that needs to be lit,
needs seeing, this, this, this?

Alex Chertok has work published in The Cincinnati Review, Willow Springs, Literary Imagination, 32 Poems, The Journal, and Hayden’s Ferry Review, among others. He completed his MFA degree at Cornell University, where he was also a Lecturer. He currently teaches at Ithaca College and through the Cornell Prison Education Program.