Greedy Algorithm


Is this or is this not
what you tasked me with.
To play our every hand.
To replace each arrival with
the nearest destination.
To keep you in what may
still be called breath.
Cliffs, ropes, pills, wings...
it’s not like you specified
any real alternatives.
I don’t blame you. Future
floods the manifold.
Singular is the present.
I too grip the damp
earth at the edge of the pond
as the crayfish eats its child
in front of the children.
The cold draft slits through
my stomach when how
the chaplain asks only
how is your pain.
Can you drink the root
beer with this straw.
As the oak leaf assigns
a pattern to the cement,
you gave me this task.
I want to give it back.

Zoë Hitzig is the author of Not Us Now (Changes, 2024) and Mezzanine (Ecco, 2020). She currently serves as poetry editor of The Drift.