The Iowa Review

After Marriage

- Micah Bateman

What if the bedroom Instead of being a bedroom Or the conference room It really is with its crystallin­e Water pitchers filled by etiquette Not quite to their brim Were instead a factory Where the thing that was made Was a toy gun, shiny In its coat of plastics And the workers themselves Were weaponized, as if They weren’t already And the factory let out Into the green of a small field Like opening the door Into Elysium, the name Of a speakeasy which led Back into one’s childhood But only were one as a child As attractive as the field itself As attractive as nostalgia Or the want for a peaceful death And were that field filled With legions of these attractive children And their batteries of toy guns Shiny in their plastic coats Or the children themselves Were weaponized, as if They weren’t already So that the makers and consumers Served the same function Which is the selfsame function The gun must lack to achieve Its toyness, and the field Were a unit of time Between childhood and war

Both fought in the bedroom Or the submarine it really is With its tanks filled just below Capacity to keep it just afloat Above the ocean’s floor? Or what if the subjunctiv­e were a place? What would the game look like That we played there And what would we make? What if out of nowhere A real bullet came out Of the fake gun, but the blood It drew were cellophane, crinkling Like the river in a dream Of real, shared sleep?

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