I. Of the Body’s Prophesy

Thinning, you call it, the thing happening to          or in his blood.
Thinning: becoming less copious     like: his hair and hunger,   desire.
Others call this red viscosity,     send you searching   for where
it rose:      Anglo-French viscous       from the Latin viscum:
“birdlime out of mistletoe”      to the root      *weis: “melt away, flow”
but “also see virus”      and never stop looking until you’ve given it
his name.   Until the Sanskrit, visah: “poison, sap, unctuous liquid”
and the Old Church Slavonic višnja:     “cherry” sweet-blood,
seal his body, seal it onto you     and what’s left?      The Welsh gwy: “water,”
and gwyar: “blood” in your hands,      left thinning:     to remember
the last place you touched.

II. Of Diagnosis or Its Name

You break apart, Kenneth-Das-bach,     break apart
his given name. Gaelic Caioneach: “handsome, comely,”
Das: German article “the,”     then complicate the bach,
“to live as an unmarried man,”   you re-name him
husband,          forget his origin           in “streamlet, creek, brook, runnel”
forget his “cause to run”     born from the Old English ærnan:
“weak and transitive”     to the Scottish burn: “fresh water,”
but all you hear is     run run run, his heart     insoluble:
borne inside, “a run” tears the kitted fabric of his flesh,
the blood, too fast, too worn     too visible
where bruises spread     like lakes across his skin.

III. Of Touch, Its Axes

So much to say     of all this blood, confined.
High German bhlo-to: “swell, gush, spurt”     and Gothic
bloma: “flower.”   What’s left?    You watch it
bloom across his face,     call out: “hot spark,”
the slang equivalent of him     wait out the silence,
then call again: “man of fire”     and he becomes
the flame,     becomes his ancestors,
their Hittite eshar: “sense of blood     outside the body,”
the thing they would claim      “a wound,”
so grave, it doesn’t have a body,     born in the marrow, inside
his bones,     born         where you cannot reach
to heal him.

IV. Of Cure

How to separate?     Find this inside the space it occupies.
Cure, you pray: Old Spanish guarir:   “to make
whole, to conjure, or to tend,”     but when still
lost in this defining, unable to lift up your hands
you use Old English remedies, wearian:
“prevent, ward off, defend”     and mimic
the “take care of” motions     from French curer,
which cannot help his living body,
like candle lighting     after someone’s dead.

V. After

There is a “care” on which they overlap:
the difference   between memory and cure.
Croation mariti:      “to care for”
(your cheek above his mouth
trying to count how fast   how warm
he’s breathing)    until “also see mourn”
is all you understand (the flight,
the lashes hard    in beat against his lids)
then morna: “pine away” and you
are following the veins across his forearm,
tracing unfamiliar passage,
“be careful” and “long after:” murnan.
You find the origin in *mer
“to wither”     the root overgrown
with man and love and loved,
overwatered with what flowed
too quickly,     the root you keep repeating:
mer mer mer    until it grows again:
repeat to make it merge with memory,
repeat until it fades to miracle
until you remember him, cured:
his hands, once more
working the grain
of olive wood
across a blade.

Julia Knobloch
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