Both Sides of Grief
a twin to every inhale I ever took
in yoga — hands folded above my solar plexus,
my back an archway above the floor.
Next, a slow exhale through this entire stretch
of asphalt. I speed across a bridge,
my knuckles knobbing along the wheel
as I drive home the final time
to empty your house. I remember you
that first day dead, how I cleaned
pink froth from the carpet where gravity pressed
your breath into the ground — where I found
your finger still curled around the steel trigger. Warning
signs blur as I toe the accelerator.
Caution Passing Zone. Do Not Enter.
I merge the car to the left,
& take the bypass as I did a month ago.
Today, it’s the same highway ferrying me
to your house, then the funeral. I focus on dodging
traffic cones, taking my first breaths
without a tether — mom. You were not
a coward like people claimed. You left me
proud of your resolve — choosing
bullets over pills,
splatter over sleep.
Where you once held
the muzzle snug against your solar plexus,
a mortician has laced your fingertips
like fabric to clot the wound underneath. I too
am bullet torn. I should be gasping. I should be
sobbing, shuddering & charading my grief.
Instead, I purse my lips,
smooth my hair, & blow out slowly
in the side view mirror.
After ten miles with the windows rolled down
my cheeks are red, my eyes bloodshot
but I have not yet cried. In the chapel
I twist at a tissue,
pray that even God won’t know the difference
between the blush of tears & the scarlet
of burning wind.
The wrap of skin without holes
It keeps me poking
my way toward a glowing red
exit. Lips parting
in the night air. Leaned against
the brick wall behind the club,
She’s another one
I stagger past. Her smooth stomach
below her halter.
My fingers would play her
like a record without any scratches.
no pops, just a shallow groove
& I’m listening
for a warmth that comes
I’m not saying I live life looking
for a wound,
but I appreciate a good scar —
filled, but not quite
level. You are
a ghost guiding my palm across
a percussion of seams
where things have joined together
again. I ask you
what you saw inside your flesh.
You tell me loquats. You tell me
What Comes to Light
moonsight | after twenty minutes
steeping at the edge of the wood | eyes learn to massage
shape from shadow
at night | color is reduced
to the flash of fireflies & memory | i test my recollection
open the album on my lap
polaroids | of second grade
silhouettes | scrubbed clean by the starlight
i remember my dress
hunter green velvet | the bodice
a second skin | cotton leggings & patent leather barricade
stage lights | the glare
from the first row | mom in her beige suit & dad
children’s choir | harmonizes
oh holy night | silence upon waking the morning after
of dried blood | mom stripping
my sheets & pillowcase in her slippers | says it’s nothing
she can’t wash away
the truth lies | in the flashlight’s beam
my bodice was burgundy brocade | it was dad who had been the hunter
Lorrie Ness is a poet writing in a rural corner of Virginia. When she’s not writing, she can be found stomping through the woods, watching birds and playing in the dirt. Her work can be found in numerous journals, including THRUSH, Palette Poetry and Sky Island Journal. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2021 and her chapbook, “Anatomy of a Wound” was published by Flowstone Press in July of 2021.