I know a winter that ends
with a mouth full of ice.
The body licked clean
and licked cleaner.
Nothing leaves
a scar as wide as a secret.
I am slicing open
the river’s numb spine.
I am slicing open each
man with his own knife.
I pray there
is no such thing as red.
Yet each secret is a blood-
drop through snow.
So I can breathe
& shout whenever I’d like.
But memory is still soft
and bruised through winter.
I have learned & re-learned
my careful tread of want.
I have learned that terrible body-
shuffle once impulse leaves.
I know a box of matches
won’t burn the skin to dusk.

Peter LaBerge is the author of the chapbooks Makeshift Cathedral (YesYes Books, 2017) and Hook (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2015). His recent work appears in Best New Poets, Colorado Review, Harvard Review, Iowa Review, Pleiades, Tin House, and elsewhere. He is the recipient of a fellowship from the Bucknell University Stadler Center for Poetry and the founder and editor-in-chief of The Adroit Journal. He lives in Philadelphia, where he is an undergraduate student at the University of Pennsylvania.