Erica Ehrenberg

Issue 13 • April 2014

Bruno Wakes Up With a Burning in His Stomach


Bruno wakes up with a burning in his stomach.
All he can hear is the motor of the air conditioner
across the alley infiltrating his body, the water glass, the sheets
with a chemical vibration, as if the tension 
that brought him into being now trembled at its furthest reach.
As he steps on the floor with his bare feet, it is his footprint
that spreads the drop in temperature.
He walks out into the street, unable to take it in 
until he finds the lot where a building and its foundation
have been torn from the ground in a trench as deep
as Bruno’s house is tall, abandoned so long it’s coated
in a blanket of greenery. He slides down into it,
crinkling the leaves, as he remembers sliding down 
dunes as a child. He comes to rest on the bottom of a pit 
whose tangled vines emit the humidity of a body sleeping 
at the center of a fallen room.



Bruno’s Brother Leaps from the Guest Bed


Bruno’s brother leaps from the guest bed fully dressed in a suit
attended by two girls who lie back down in a pile
on Bruno’s couch beside him without seeing him.
In the midst of Bruno’s newspaper there appears
a curling and painted set of toes. 
They look soft and unformed like the feet of babies in carriages
on the subway, and the dress that falls near him 
is diaphanous as the song that wafts from his brother’s mouth 
as he butters toast. He wears a jacket twice the width
of his body, hair an extension
of his eyebrows, and a look of scorn 
at Bruno’s pale expression. 
The sky lowers itself on a hinge. It creaks.
It holds thunder. “I’ve got two men in a car outside
waiting to take me to a raw space where we’re building a factory,
so far down the borough its practically seaside,” the brother says. 
Bruno gets in the car while the girls crawl into his bed.
In the factory a fire alarm rages out of windows 
over the part of the river that smells like salt.
On the vacant floor there is a school desk
holding a single sewing machine.
Bruno works through the day and night,
he must work through the fire alarm and the firemen 
bursting in with hoses the size of subway cars, 
on a fabric so delicate you can’t see it.
He opens his hand under the rain
and the rain turns to thread.