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Claire Connolly



There will be no funeral for you: the soft circumference

of you in my bed, pressed to my belly, our synchronized breath

a facile dance. I will not get to tribute your mouthful

of crooked teeth, your mismatched eyes, how it feels to know that

I am one of your basic needs. When you came home,

a survival’s toolkit made flesh, I started counting

your life expectancy: 15-18 years. I thought by the time you died,

I would be old enough to say goodbye well. Instead,

that year has arrived, & I grab a handful

of your fur & shove my face into the warm curl of your body,

knowing that the time is coming & I do not know how to use a hatchet

at all.


One summer, I drove to a girl’s house,

skin lathered in coconut sunscreen, a dash of white on my nose

that I missed rubbing in. Back then, I wasn’t warned of loss,

how it peels itself out from under a burnt love until it is the only part of us

left touching the world, until we can’t remember what it felt like to hold something

without hurting.

I don’t recall what was said to me

about how I was no longer wanted, but I still feel targeted by unrequited grief.

With you, I am glad you will never have

to know Gone, that your life will be filled entirely of me until

it is not. & when it is not, you will not know it. When it is not,

only I will.


The Nights of Lost Cause

I admit, I wanted love without uncertainty.

Like everyone else, I wanted love like I wanted an object,

a mindless permanence.

I would bring anything into the house & keep it as long as it stayed.

J left for groceries & the rain fell harder than the day before.

I placed the last call I’d make on my own phone

& a car arrived carrying my rescuers - those who saw this reckless mind

& were still there to hold me,

my friends. The space between who they knew me to be

& who I was now

stared at us, making sound after sound, a tender-throated

prey-thing pulled from a jaw.

Glorious windfall. Unknowable chimes in the air. That day was the first day

of my freedom - how it has spoken to me again & again

in its ephemeral bliss. Somewhere on the other side of this ample time

& its distance, I am not a survivor.

I was not carried to a safe house,

did not need a new computer.

Somewhere, I am not worried that I no longer know where she lives,

& if it is here. I said every prayer on those nights

of Lost Cause & each year I will

pray again. This is wonderful.

Or is it sad? If I continue to shout her abuse