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