The Expiration Of Alloy

by July Westhale

Dear polola,

You left on a Thursday.  Sometimes moving to Russia in February makes itself necessary. Who am I to argue. If you are not my shirt snap, I have no say over your click; I have no ascendancy to your thread-count.

I am wondering if you remember Arizona. Wilhoit’s jimson bending to your low in the polyp of monsoon. When your first reaction to the weather wasn’t to ask about making sweet tea, but to hide in the din of the front porch trying to close the door that had sweltered shut—then, then I suspected the lack in your chest hollows. The disconnect between bridge bones and rib-stick. Heartlessness is something I imagine as an infestation of parasitic plant life, an offense worthy of water-cooler diatribe—I realize my own cultural superiority in asserting such a problematic claim, but hearts are natural resources where I come from. That night, I coaxed you out from the wilt of the stoop and showed you how to pickle fine silver. You left your thumbprints in the frets of my ribs.

I said, remember? I apexed the hatch openings to include hinges, said to you, “if the heart had a hatch, this is where the jamb would pinafore the mouth shut. I could open your throat and herald your organs that way, using your esophagus as a periscope, see the interworking of how you feel. How is it that you are networked and I can’t hear your thump on the other side?” you bellowed. You bellowed and you bellowed. You were a djembe in the croak of hot black wind and I let you. I let you hit the bass notes without voicing my own tickered anxieties.

In February you waxed off my pier, you were jaunty in your exodus, mariner’s revenge bringing your teeth to gaps on the mandarin of your mouth. Even though you stole my blue raincoat and didn’t leave a note, you looked jubilantly incautious in a final kind of way. Beatific in abandon, piano-players hands to the ellipsis, your breasts shuddering over your fated chest plate: you, you, polola, were always one to suffer a fate worse than cardio-organic evacuation—no, you were holding your knuckles in your palms over absolute void. And your mantles that I had so ardently admired were smashed glass in the archive of that moment, framed by driftwood swollen in my sea window. In the absence of your paradisiacal tumult, the dexterity with which I practiced the craft of metal work has desisted. I thought of an abundance of dramaturgic livelihoods, beginning with chimney sweep and ending with lepidopterist. Anything, anything, polola, that would generate income in the gutted streets of san francisco and still be considered worthy of accolade in Russia. Not that you asked me to join you. The strings of asking, in this regard, are marionetted to the heart, which you lack. Naturally, you wouldn’t solicit companionship in your journey, you wouldn’t juxtapose our paths.

In the absence of your requests, I have abandoned discourse with the smaller metal arts, choosing instead to make favor with sculpture and rough-hew your sailored constitution to perfection. The skeleton key to changing archive is to over-write, is to amend that which yelps paucity. In this history, I have attached your new heart—a mechanized flabbergast of alloy and reconstructive science. You will find attached a metal organ volleyed sympathetic, imbued with light and felicity and a pension for embarcadero-ed cities on the western seaboard of the united states. Your new nebulous is endowed with a fully functioning hatch, pulmonaries well-lubricated and bested for optimum grace, atriums spacious and accommodating. To appeal to your mariner’s fancy, I have patinaed your apparatus with a foam green, scalloped the edges from the butane of my torch in all of its pieces, soldered it with paste flux, and threw it into the pickle.

How beautiful I imagine it looking sheaved with moss green pulling tendons through and wide-mouthed ready to buzz blood gossip across the Pacific Ocean. And then the next time you want to try to break my heart, you will have to barrage past your own metal interworking, will have to contend with my own handiwork with soft elements that don’t take well to stain, that breathe in through hard paste-cracks and rebirths itself in the space between here and Russia.

In craft and hatch,


ps- please return the green bottle I sent this in, it is a family heirloom and thus equipped to handle the murk and jostle of sea faring.

Dear Zara,

Your contraption rusted solid shut, dismantled by salt and wet. I am sending you back your green bottle, and your raincoat, by regular post.

Obdurately yours,


July Westhale is a poet and activist with a weakness for botany and hot air balloons. In 2004 she won the Out! Redwood Lesbian Rainbow Literary Award for Prose and was published in College of the Redwood’s literary journal, Poets and Writers. In August 2010, she was invited to participate in and publish with InterDisciplinary’s International Conference on Performance Theory in Prague with her article “Entrails and the Bedroom: Sexual and Geographical Borderlands in Queer Bodies”. Her poetry has been published in Spork Literary Press (November 2010) and Bitch You Left Me. She lives and writes in an attic in Alameda with her two cats, z and blue.

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