Grief’s raw tongue licked at your calves insistently,
the old, familiar dog. You could have allowed it
to continue, until thick, pink loss slid down your throat,
the tragedy of it purified through your kidneys.
Your woodpile had grown thin,
so instead, you went to the forest to enact your violence,
denied a chance to sit in memoriam,
and you walked home with blistered palms
to find steam rising from the pot you left,
the water having since boiled over.
Here is what else you missed:
steam coagulating like birth on the burners,
the stray cat catching another mouse
in the yard, your father calling again,
the ghost of your sister sitting on my lap
while I braided her webbed-hair.
She asked me why you can’t say her name.
She told me it had been four days, and she had found
her new home with no risk of being returned.
You cradled the bodies from a war
only you participated in. Sharp oak fingers
pointed accusingly at each other, to questioning
who could have allowed such upheaval?
My guess is, the forest had not met
a boy made from bullets and powdered milk before.
The woodpile grew large and daunting,
as if you wanted to create new horizons
to wake up to, its shadows made to look
like yucca breaming into the deep guts
of a certain canyon that you could not cross,
even with your impatient love.
You would have to wait your turn with me,
just like everyone else,
before you’re allowed to go back home.
Read more from Issue No. 16 or share on Facebook and Twitter.