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Chloé Firetto-Toomey


after Rachel McKibbens

Resilience is a callous on the balls of my mother’s feet.

There she goes walking through small stone fires,

and blood-songs, rising like angel ash and smokestacks.

She knows how to fall forward, thumb the scale.

I don’t want to know about my stepfather’s defeat,

how he ambles to the forest’s edge

admires the river’s dark mouth

longs to become the mist rising from the water.

Just like that

after Richard Blanco

You fell into a hole by the riverbank, your weak ankle twisting as it does and

you plummet on your way across the construction site to your Samurai,

splitting your head on rocks, calcified artifacts, I fear. I won’t know for sure

until after nightfall, perhaps not until the morning, when your body

will be discovered by the chatty backhoe driver.

You’re late coming home from work, you texted to say you probably would,

but the news has begun and the final throws of light ignite the western wall.

Meatloaf cools on the countertop, potatoes smashed—here

your contour does the dishes, and I won’t care if you leave the plug clogged,

the sponge sodden, litter box un-scooped.

The active shooter is to blame. The employee you fired returns the day

you neglect to bring your gun — shoots you in the back with a rifle

from his car parked in the far corner of the lot. You fall like the colosseum.

How will I live without you? The other archeologists will need therapy.

Likely an accident on the 836—I’ve told you that postage stamp vehicle doesn’t

take corners well. It somersaults the bypass — doors and roof helicopter on impact.

How will I tell your parents? They’ll see it on the news, the small fires, your shovels

and dirt-screens in the road. I’ll need an instruction manual to relearn how to inhale,

how to walk through the door and sit on this couch which houses your imprint beside me.

On the news, a Ukrainian widow sobs. She blames herself for not begging hard enough

the Russian soldiers who slit her husband’s throat. She recounts her husband’s pale hands,

how his shirt had been clean. What mothers could raise such men?

I feel our unborn son knock uterine walls—how will I raise him without you?

Tears roll like heads down the hills of my cheeks, watering the boneyards of dead


Then just like that your key turns the door; light appears.

Practicing Recovery in Miami Beach

after Gustavo Hernandez